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Is there an easy (cheap) way to identify aluminum alloys? There are a couple dozen common aluminum alloys. Some weld easy, some don't. Some can be hardened, some can't. Some are harder than others. And, each requires different filler alloys.Is there an easy way to identify alloys from scrap?One method is using XRF (X-Ray Fluorescence). Unfortunately the scanners cost $10,000+, and is somewhat out of the range of a home user.I suppose I could safely file off a small sample. IR spectroscopy? Gas Chromatography? Perhaps it would help to just try to determine the melting point and density if I had a good table of physical properties.
cheap spectroscope thread ... http://www.thenakedscientists.com/forum/index.php?topic=20679
At least some of the elements (Zn, Mg, Si) you would be looking for in aluminium won't work well in a simple flame photometer.Si is a particular problem since it isn't easy to dissolve in acids unless you use HF which isn't nice stuff.
Don't forget that you may need to know the temper as well.
A spark emission system might be more practical. Charge a fairly big capacitor then discharge it through a tungsten or carbon electrode directly onto the bit of metal you want to analyse. Take a picture of the spark through a direct vision spectroscope with a digital camera.Compare the picture of the spectrum with a library of spark spectra from known alloys.I think the problem would be that al lot of the lines you want to look at are in the UV.Also, you would probably need to produce the spark in an inert gas like Ar to keep the background spectrum simpler and to prevent problems with molecular emissions.
It's clear why the commercial systems are expensive.