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Using Thermogravimetric Analysis for Mineral Examination

Thermogravimetric Analysis (TGA) is a pivotal technique used in the assessment and characterization of minerals. Utilized in material science and geochemistry, this method offers insightful data on the thermal stability, composition and decomposition behavior of minerals. 

We offer a deep dive of TGA in our blog. This includes its principles, advantages and applications in mineral examination.


The Principles of Thermogravimetric Analysis

TGA is an analytical technique used to measure the weight change of a material as a function of temperature or time under a controlled atmosphere. Its core principle is straightforward. A sample’s mass is monitored as it is heated or cooled in a furnace. This process allows for the analysis of thermal effects that cause weight loss or gain, including dehydration, oxidation, or decomposition.¹


Applications in Mineral Examination

  • Determination of Mineral Composition: TGA is particularly useful in determining the composition of complex minerals. By analyzing the weight loss patterns at specific temperature ranges, scientists can deduce the presence of various components. Examples of this are water (in hydrates), carbon dioxide (in carbonates), and organic matter.
  • Thermal Stability Analysis: The thermal stability of minerals is a key area of investigation, especially in industries where materials are subjected to high temperatures. TGA provides valuable data on the temperatures at which minerals undergo phase transitions, melt, or decompose. This data is crucial for their practical applications.
  • Decomposition Behavior: Understanding how a mineral decomposes upon heating is vital for processes such as roasting in ore refining. TGA helps in determining the temperature ranges in which these decomposition reactions occur, informing the optimization of industrial processes.
  • Hydration and Dehydration Studies: Many minerals, such as clays and zeolites, have significant water content. TGA allows for the precise measurement of water loss. It provides insights into the structural properties and potential applications of these minerals.


Advantages of Thermogravimetric Analysis

  • Precision and Accuracy: TGA provides highly accurate and reproducible data, which is essential for the detailed characterization of minerals.
  • Quantitative Analysis: Unlike some qualitative techniques, TGA offers quantitative data on the amount of each component within a mineral.
  • Versatility: This method can be applied to a wide range of minerals. It is compatible with other analytical techniques for a more comprehensive analysis.
  • Non-Destructive: TGA is a non-destructive technique, allowing for the preservation of the sample for further examination.


Recent Advancements and Future Directions

Recent advancements in TGA include coupling with other analytical methods, such as differential scanning calorimetry and mass spectrometry. These combinations provide more comprehensive data, revealing not just weight changes but also calorimetric and molecular information. Future directions point towards the integration of AI and machine learning for data analysis. This could enhance the predictive capabilities of TGA in mineralogy.


Enhance Your Mineral Examination with Thermogravimetric Analysis

Thermogravimetric Analysis stands as a cornerstone technique in mineral tests and examinations. Its ability to provide detailed insights into the composition, thermal behavior, and decomposition of minerals makes it indispensable in both academic research and industrial applications. As technology advances, this method will continue to evolve, offering even deeper insights into the complex world of minerals.



Brown M, Gallagher P. Handbook of Thermal Analysis and Calorimetry Applications to inorganic and miscellaneous materials. 2. Netherlands: Elsevier Science; 2003.