Elemental Analysis of OAK and Hickory Charcoal Using Neutron Activation Analysis


  • D. H. Slocum
  • E. A. McGinnes, Jr.
  • D. M. McKown


Quercus alba, Carya ovata, charcoal, ash, minerals, neutron activation analysis, chemical analysis


One-cm cubes of heartwood of white oak and shagbark hickory wood and charcoat were analyzed for selected inorganic elements using neutron activation analysis. A multi-element survey procedure with short (30-sec) and long (24-h) irradiation exposures was developed for use with the University of Missouri Research Reactor Facility. Output of this facility is 10 Megawatts, generating a flux of 1 x 1014 neutrons/cm2/sec. Matched wood samples were converted into charcoat utilizing (1) commercial process in a Missouri-type kiln, and (2) laboratory charring using specified time/temperature schedules.

Inorganic concentrations of Al, Ba, Br, Ca, Ce, Co, Cr, Eu, Fe, K, Mg, Mn, Na, Rb, and Zn were found to increase with charring temperature as a result of the reduced charcoal yield. The elements measured accounted for some 60% of the ash content, which was also shown to increase in inverse proportion to the charcoal yield.


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