countries such as India. Remote testing devices, such as portable gas analyzers, have proven their criticality in spot-checking
and tuning applications in various fields, such as agriculture,
fuel gas, power generators, gasification, steel heat treating and
others. Portable equipment helps in assessing risk associated at
Results from such portable instruments could help first
responders in any emergency situation in defining comprehensive protective and safety measures. Portable equipment such as
benchtop NMR or GCMS can prove to be successful in swift
evaluation of chemical reactions in real-time to check reactants,
follow the reaction and determine its endpoint. This would allow
optimization of an industrial process to maximize returns and
minimize unwanted contaminants.
Portable instruments can also be used along with larger spectrometers to filter out less important research samples, freeing up
time for the more sophisticated tests on larger machines.
Forensic is another field that is receiving enormous benefits by
adopting portable equipment. Forensic XRF guns can be used to
identify and profile complete elemental chemistry. Manufacturers are offering XRF guns that adopt non-destructive analytical
techniques for sample analysis. This helps in preserving the actual
crime scene, and also in cases of limited sample availability. Similarly portable qPCR systems facilitate quick, in-the-field molecular
analysis for forensic and non-forensic purposes.
Table 1: TCO comparison between large and portable NMR equipment.
Source: Beroe Analysis and Thermo Fisher Scientific
Already, manufacturers have jumped aboard the portable and
miniaturization train. For example:
• Aeroqual, a New Zealand-based company, is collaborating
with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to develop
cost-effective next generation air sensor technology.
• Bruker has launched the portable Counter Top XRF (CTX),
a XRF elemental analyzer primarily for mobile and field
• Research presented at Ohio Shale Policy and Technology
Symposium showed use of portable equipment to remove
hazardous elements and compounds from contaminated
water produced from oil and gas wells to facilitate more
effective and eco-friendly disposal of wastewater.
• Parker launched X-ray fluorescence analyzer (XRF) for measuring sulphur content in fuel. It can also measure a range
of wear metals in lubricating oil, allowing operators to
quickly identify potential damage in cylinder liners, bearings, piston rings, gears, stern tubes and hydraulic systems.
Portable equipment is based on simple technology and
hence has limited sensitivity and resolution. It works on
smaller frequencies and has different scales, compared with
established large equipment and technologies. These gaps and
differences could raise questions on results obtained by portable equipment. Small size often leads to problems associated
with reproducibility of sample positioning.
Sustainable business is a priority for every industry as it is a
key to resolve respective environmental and social issues. Portable laboratory equipment offers quick and sustainable ways
to test samples in real-time. Portable equipment is an essential
part of environment monitoring and testing systems, including
remote sensors, satellite and model data. As scientists continue
to develop more methods to experiment with portable equipment, there will eventually be enough data to develop new
standards and regulations.
Manufacturers are working toward increasing sensitivity
and resolution within limited working frequencies for portable
equipment. But for now, portable lab equipment could be best
used in addition to large equipment to increase feasibility and
accessibility of technologies—and also for saving time and
cost. For example, benchtop NMR cannot replace large NMR
equipment or any other established analytical technology. It
can be used along with larger spectrometers to filter out less
important research samples, freeing up more time for more
sophisticated tests on larger machines.
Sample testing and analysis is core to many industries, such as agrochemical,
pharmaceutical, healthcare and polymer.
Parameters Large NMR Equipment Portable NMR Equipment
Around USD 200,000 –
without VAT of 400 MHz
NMR with 2 years of
warranty and 1 year of
is expected to be in
between USD 540,000
to 625,000 )
Around USD 85000 –
USD 30000 per year USD 5000 per year
Operator Cost USD 70000 per year 0
USD 10,000 per year USD 1500 per year
Lab Floor Re-
100 units < 1 unit
100 units < 7 units