Institute for Future

Analytical chemistry


Our analytical laboratory is part of the Central Analytical Research Facility (CARF).

The analytical laboratory houses an array of top-end instruments for chemically analysing a wide range of gas, liquid and solid samples, down to parts per trillion in some cases. In the lab, researchers are able to analyse:

  • carbon, nitrogen and sulfur (CNS) content of various materials
  • methane, carbon dioxide and nitrous oxide concentrations in gases
  • elemental and isotopic composition of gases, liquids and solids.

Additional analytical chemistry equipment includes instruments for:

  • sample preparation
  • spectroscopy
  • mass spectrometry.

Most samples need to be crushed, powdered, extracted or diluted into a form that can be analysed by the instrument. We can assist with preparing samples as required.

Research applications

  • Earth science - dating of mineral grains in rocks to determine the Earth's history
  • Environmental studies - measuring atmospheric greenhouse gases; analysing all elements from sodium to uranium, in a wide range of samples, such as soils, sewage sludge, additives in oil, cement, slag, and electronic components and parts; measuring compounds in liquid samples, such as river, lake, ocean, wastewater and industrial samples
  • Process engineering - quantifying target chemicals in a production line to meet strict standards

Typical projects

  • Determining the geochronology of zircon in rocks, to measure the age of the Earth's rock layers
  • Measuring trace metals in soil and sediments to investigate how this affects ecosystems
  • Quantifying trace elements in vegetables and fruit flies and the relationship between them to aid in crop protection
  • Examining the effect of fertilisers on grassland

Read details

Laboratory coordinators

Laboratory team

Organisational unit
Lead unit Institute for Future Environments
Research areas
chemistry, analytical chemistry, environmental analysis, gas, liquids, solids, greenhouse gas, soil, plants, geology, geochemistry, environmental science


Our state-of-the-art equipment allows for a range of analyses and discovery. See the details and specifications of our available laboratory equipment.

Carbon, nitrogen and sulfur (CNS) analysis

Instrument Capabilities and features
LECO TruMac Series Macro Determinator Analysis of carbon, nitrogen and sulfur in macro samples (up to 3 g for nitrogen; up to 1.5 g for carbon/nitrogen; up to 0.3 g for carbon/nitrogen/sulfur).
LECO Truspec Micro Determinator Analysis of carbon, nitrogen, oxygen and sulfur in micro samples (maximum size 2 mg).
Shimadzu TOC-V (with TNM attachment) Total Organic Carbon Analyser Measurement of total carbon (TC), inorganic carbon (IC), total organic carbon (TOC) and total nitrogen (TN) in liquid samples, such as river, lake, ocean, wastewater and industrial samples (max concentration ~100ppm).


Instrument Capabilities and features
Agilent 7890A Gas Chromatograph Advanced separation capabilities with extremely precise pressure and temperature control.
Shimadzu GC-2014 Gas Chromatograph Analysis of methane, carbon dioxide and nitrous oxide.
Dionex ICS-2100 Ion Chromatograph Anion analysis of aqueous samples. Analysis methods can be made to order.


Instrument Capabilities and features
TPS pH, conductivity and dissolved oxygen meter and ion probes pH, conductivity, dissolved oxygen and specific ion measurement for aqueous samples.
Mettler Toledo T50 Titrator-Rondolino Automated titration with nine-place sample changer for alkalinity, acid base titration, etc.

Mass spectrometry

Instrument Capabilities and features
Sercon 20-22 Isotope Ratio Mass Spectrometer Precise measurements of 12C, 13C, 14N, 15N, 16O, 17O, 18O isotopes in gas, liquid or solid samples.
Agilent 8800 Inductively Coupled Plasma Mass Spectrometer (ICP-MS) Triple quadrupole mass spectrometer capable of trace metal analysis down to parts per trillion.
Agilent 8800 Laser Ablation Inductively Coupled Plasma Mass Spectrometer (LA-ICP-MS) Determination of trace element concentrations, down to parts per billion, in a wide range of solid samples.
Syft Technologies VOICE200ultra Selected Ion Flow Tube Mass Spectrometer (SIFT-MS) High sensitivity, real-time high-throughput quantitative gas analysis. Simultaneous analysis of chemically diverse VOCs and inorganics to pptv level.


Instrument Capabilities and features
Thermo Fisher Gallery Discrete Analyser Automated wet chemistry analyser with extensive applications: water, wastewater, soil, plant tissue, fertiliser, etc.
Agilent Cary 60 UV-VI Spectrophotometer Spectrometer for ultraviolet-visible analysis. Software allows for a wide range of applications.
Perkin Elmer Optima 8300 DV Inductively Coupled Plasma Optical Emission Spectrometer (ICP-OES) Elemental analysis down to parts per million. Dual view instrument for TDS up to 20% and dynamic linear range.
Los Gatos Research (LGR) Liquid Water Isotope Analyser Measures δ18O and δ2H water in liquid.

Sample preparation

Instrument Capabilities and features
Martin Christ Alpha 1-4 LDplus Freeze Dryer Drying/water removal from solid samples including sediments, plant material and soils.
Bench top preparation Bench area for sample and reagent preparation. Glassware, ovens, dessicators, sinks and gases.
Dionex ASE 350 Accelerated Solvent Extractor (ASE) Extraction of solid and semi-solid samples using common solvents at elevated temperatures (40-200°C) and pressures.
Classie TheOX electronic fusion instrument Preparation of inorganic samples (fusion solutions and fused disks) for X-ray fluorescence (XRF).
Milestone Ultrawave Single Reaction Chamber (SRC) SRC microwave digestion system, up to 199 bars of pressure and 350°C.
Clean room Trace metal analysis preparation.
Analab CleanAcids and Savillex DST-1000 Acid Purification System Sub-boiling stills for purification of acids and reagents such as HNO3, HCI, HF and other solvents.
Balance room Various analytical balances with precision to 0.1 mg and 0.01 mg, as well as an anti-static kit.

Services and equipment hire

Accessing services and equipment

Our equipment is available to staff, students, external researchers and commercial organisations at a competitive price. Our laboratory provides both self-service and full-service options.

Our experienced staff can provide training, advice and guidance on the experimental process and the analysis of results, so that you achieve optimal outcomes.

External prices are listed below. Please contact us to discuss any research needs and collaboration opportunities.

Booking instructions

To arrange a consultation, refer to our booking instructions.


  • A minimum number of samples applies depending on the instrument or analysis. Extra charges may apply or waiting time may be longer to make a batch.
  • For non-conventional samples requiring non-routine analysis, method development or additional advice on analytical setup and data processing, an additional charge will apply.
  • All charges listed apply to samples that are ready for acid digestion. Additional charges will apply for samples that require processing prior to digestion (eg., crushing, splitting, drying, and homogenisation).

2019 indicative pricing for external researchers

Equipment, service or analysis With technician assistanceUnassisted
Laser ablation ICP-MS
ICP-MS equipment use (half-day) $1,050 $780*
ICP-MS equipment use (full-day) $1,575 $1,165*
ICPOES (per sample)
Excluding sample preparation $30 $25
Including hot-block digestion preparation $50 $25
Including sample preparation $55 $30
ICPMS (per sample)
Excluding sample preparation $50 $30
Including hot plate digestion $115 $55
Including ultrawave digestion $160 $70
Elemental analysis (per sample)
LECO TruSpec Micro CHNOS $40 $25
LECO TruMAC CNS $15 $10
TOC-TN (liquid) $10 $10
Solvent extraction (per sample)
Dionex ASE $35 $15
Nutrient analysis (per sample)
Gallery Discrete Analyser (NO3 and NH4) $10 $5

*these charges do not include data reduction, ie turning counts into concentrations. For this service add $70.

2019 indicative pricing for commercial organisations

Equipment, service or analysis With technician assistanceUnassisted
Laser ablation ICP-MS
ICP-MS equipment use (half-day) $2,530 Not available
ICP-MS equipment use (full-day) $3,780 Not available
ICPOES (per sample)
Excluding sample preparation $45 Not available
Including hot-block digestion preparation $80 Not available
Including sample preparation $85 Not available
ICPMS (per sample)
Excluding sample preparation $80 Not available
Including hot plate digestion $180 Not available
Including ultrawave digestion $250 Not available
Elemental analysis (per sample)
LECO TruSpec Micro CHNOS $90 Not available
LECO TruMAC CNS $35 Not available
TOC-TN (liquid) $25 Not available
Solvent extraction (per sample)
Dionex ASE $80 Not available
Nutrient analysis (per sample)
Gallery Discrete Analyser (NO3 and NH4) $25 Not available

Preparing and submitting samples

To ensure samples can be analysed correctly, they need to be prepared, labelled and submitted correctly. We can provide suitable vials.

Sample preparation tips

Make sure that samples are labelled correctly (vials and boxes), and include a hard copy of the sample submission form with the delivery. Read our guide for preparing labels for vial samples (PDF file, 313.1 KB). For assistance with preparing, labelling and submitting samples, please contact us.

Analysis processes

Sample submission forms


Central Analytical Research Facility - Analytical Laboratory

  • Level 6, P Block
    Gardens Point
    2 George St
    Brisbane QLD 4000