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Chemical Metrology for Metals, Ores, and Related Materials


A wide range of industrial sectors and their customers and suppliers are involved directly with NIST in the prioritization and development of certified reference materials, and in the development and validation of standard test methods for raw materials, intermediates, and finished products.


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. Due to the wide range of materials and the rapid changes of product compositions, NIST efforts are targeted at key, high-value commodities with the greatest range of metrological impact. The private sector can leverage NIST reference materials 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, and related materials       
  • 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
  • Support other U.S. government agencies’ measurement needs.

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 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, silicon metal, zirconium, and copper mine tailings,        
  • Participated in development of international standard test methods listed below, 
  • 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.

Start Date:

December 1, 1970

End Date:


Lead Organizational Unit:



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

Associated Products:

Click on the SRM number below to be transferred to a website from which you can access the material's Certificate of Analysis. For additional materials, please refer to the online SRM catalog categories 101 Ferrous Metals, 102 Nonferrous Metals, and 111 Geological Materials and Ores. 

SRM 57b Silicon Metal. Values assigned for elements in manufacturing specifications for silicon metal

SRM 331a Copper Ores Mill Tails. Values assigned for copper, noble metals, and trace elements on the EPA Toxic Release Inventory

SRM 360b Zirconium Alloy (Sn-Fe-Cr). Values assigned for tin and trace elements listed in nuclear industry manufacturing specifications

SRMs 1761a and 1763a Low Alloy Steel. Values assigned for elements listed in manufacturing specifications for steel

SRM 2451 Fine Carbon (Activated). Values assigned for mercury, gold, cyanide

Associated publications: 

“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

Gregory C. Turk