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Measurements, Standards, and Reference Materials for Industrial Commodities


All industrial sectors rely on elemental analysis and physical properties testing to confirm product compliance with manufacturing specifications. Support of product compliance testing has long been a core activity in the Chemical Sciences Division in collaboration with industry associations and standards developing organizations (SDOs). For years, the Chemical Sciences Division has invested in development of standard test methods for industrial commodities and in SRM development to validate those methods and to establish traceability to the International System of Units (SI). These efforts are aligned with industry needs through interaction with SDOs, industry associations, expert private sector laboratories, and commercial reference materials producers.


In the arena of industrial commodities, the primary challenges are to provide measurement tools and reference materials that allow U.S. industry to establish comparability of measurement results to results obtained by customers, competitors, and regulators for the basic chemical properties of products, intermediates, and by-products on a worldwide basis. All members of a given industrial supply chain benefit from critically evaluated standard test methods validated using trusted reference materials. The private sector can leverage NIST reference materials for key commodities by creating their own reference materials targeted at products having more specialized compositions and applications.

The goals of this program are to:

  • Increase the availability of reference materials (both NIST and private sector) for basic industrial commodities including metals, ores, cement, polymers, glass, and more  
  • Collaborate with the private sector through standards development organizations and industry associations        
  • Make use of multiple methods of analysis at NIST and collaborating laboratories
  • Contribute to development of new and improved standard methods of test.

Additional Technical Details:

This program is comprised of a number of collaborations between NIST and industry sectors. Design of materials for new SRMs is accomplished in cooperation with materials and analysis experts from industry. Specifications for composition, homogeneity, and quantity are based on current and projected industry needs. Value assignment projects are designed to include high-performance analytical methods at NIST, state-of-the-art laboratory methods in industry, and the classical chemistry methods where available and appropriate.

Major Accomplishments: 

In the past several years, the following SRMs have been developed or renewed in collaboration with industry:         

  • Completed new and renewal SRMs for steel, Portland cement, polyethylene, silicon metal, zirconium, and copper mine tailings,
  • Participated in development of international standard test methods for elements in titanium and plastics and compounds in cement,
  • Upgraded existing SRM certificates to comply with ISO Guide 31 for more than 20 ferrous alloys, nonferrous alloys, and geological materials,     
  • Initiated SRM development projects for free-cutting brass, lead-free solder, molybdenum concentrates, silicon carbide, copper ore, refined copper, and feldspar.

Standard Methods of Test:

The following industry standard methods of test were developed and approved with significant contributions by NIST. 

  • ASTM International E135-08b Standard Terminology Relating to Analytical Chemistry for Metals, Ores, and Related Materials    
  • ASTM International E539-07 Standard Test Method for X-Ray Fluorescence Spectrometric Analysis of 6Al-4V Titanium Alloy
  • ASTM International E1361-02(2007) Standard Guide for Correction of Interelement Effects in X-Ray Spectrometric Analysis         
  • ASTM International E2465-06 Standard Test Method for Analysis of Ni-Base Alloys by X-Ray Fluorescence Spectrometry
  • ASTM International F2617-08 Standard Test Method for Identification and Quantification of Chromium, Bromine, Cadmium, Mercury, and Lead in Polymeric Material Using Energy Dispersive X-Ray Spectrometry
  • ASTM International E2626-08 Standard Guide for Spectrometric Analysis of Reactive and Refractory Metals

Start Date:

December 1, 1970

End Date:


Lead Organizational Unit:



ALS Chemex
ASTM International Committees C01 on Cement and Concrete, C14 on Glass and Glass Products, D20 on Plastic, E01 on Analytical Chemistry of Metals, Ores, and Related Materials, and F40 on Declarable Substances in Materials
ATI Wah Chang
Cement and Concrete Reference Laboratory
Concast Metal Products
Construction Technologies Laboratory
Globe Metallurgical, Inc.
Laboratory Testing, Inc.
LECO Corporation
MBH Analytical
Newmont Metallurgical Services
SGS Minerals Services
The Aluminum Association
United Abrasives Manufacturers Assoc.
U.S. Geological Survey


Therese A. Butler
W. Clay Davis
R. Gregory Downing
Stephen E. Long
Anthony F. Marlow
John L. Molloy
Rick L. Paul
Savelas A. Rabb
Michael R. Winchester
Laura J. Wood
Lee L. Yu

Associated Products:

“Validation of an alkali reaction, borate fusion, X-ray fluorescence method for silicon metal,” Sieber, J.R., Mackey, E.A., Marlow, A.F., Paul, R., and Martin, R., Powder Diffraction (2007) 22(2): 146-151.


John R. Sieber
Tel. 301-975-3920

Gregory C. Turk
Tel. 301-975-4118

Stephen A. Wise
Tel. 301-975-3112