Process Control

Portable Ash Probe Provides Accuracy in Harsh Mining Environments

Portable Ash Probe Provides Accuracy in Harsh Environments - coal ash on mining site - Parker Hannifin Instrumentation Products Division The Ash Probe is a portable instrument for measuring the ash content of coal, providing the user with highly accurate readings within seconds. Instantaneous readings can be made of coal quality on stockpiles, trains or trucks, allowing customers to check the quality of incoming coal supplies and specifications against their suppliers’ claims.

Widely used in the mining industry, it allows suppliers to verify the quality of their product and therefore have confidence that the delivery will be accepted by the client ensuring the agreed price per tonne is paid.

Ash Probe was the first portable product to be developed by Bretby Gammatech (now a part of Parker's Instrumentation Products Division) with the first one sold to a mine in South Wales. Since then, hundreds of Ash Probes have been delivered all around the world, with many of these customers also purchasing Ash Eye or Lab Ash equipment.

Like all Parker Bretby Gammatech’s products, the Ash Probe uses natural gamma radiation, with no radioactive sources.

The Ash Probe has been developed to withstand harsh environments and is therefore renowned for being extremely robust. It is currently being used in temperatures down to -50oC in Mongolia, China, as well as in temperatures over 40oC in many African countries.


Ash Probe – features and benefits

Portable Ash Probe Provides Accuracy in Harsh Environments - Ash Probe with AshGraphics display unit - Parker Hannifin. Instrumentation Products Division.

  • Simple to use, easy to calibrate

  • Much quicker than conventional sampling and analysis

  • More information on ash and ash variability

  • Facilitates dispatch more quickly - reducing train standing time

  • Enables increase of saleable tonnage - leading to increased revenue

  • Reduces discard - leading to reduced disposal costs

  • Reduces sampling effort - leading to reduced costs

  • High resolution colour touch-screen display

  • Multi language user interface with more languages being added all the time.

Pic. 1. Parker's Ash Probe with a display unit.


How to operate the Ash Probe

The Ash Probe comprises two main parts: a probe and a display unit. To obtain an ash reading, the probe is pushed into the coal pile or truck to be tested. After a few seconds, an ash result shows on the display unit.

In order to obtain an accurate assessment of the ash content of the whole pile (or wagon load), the probe is inserted at several locations. This is repeated until the desired precision level has been reached.

In Pile Mode, up to 99 probings per pile can be made and data from up to 99 piles can be stored. In Truck Mode up to 12 probings per truck can be made and data from up to 600 trucks can be stored.

Calibration is readily achieved by the customer using the supplied calibration sample gathering equipment.



Tests on a wide range of coals from over twenty countries on five continents have shown that the Ash Probe can measure the ash content to closer than 1% (1σ) ash. In some cases better than 0.5% (1σ) accuracy has been achieved with high-grade anthracite.



The Ash Probe is currently being used by customers around the world to provide quick testing for the ash content of: 

  • Run-of Mine (ROM) coal

  • Washed product (smalls, peas, beans, singles, doubles etc.)

  • Screened coal (dry fines, PSF etc.)

  • Slurry

  • Blended products

  • Final product (e.g. composite ash pile)

  • Discard

  • Unknown coals prior to blending

  • Rail or truck deliveries to blending plants, power stations, coking plants, and cement works


Download the Ash Probe product bulletin.


Portable Ash Probe Provides Accuracy in Harsh Environments. Gary Wain, product manager, Parker Hannifin, Instrumentation Products DivisionArticle contributed by Gary Wain, piping products, product manager, Instrumentation Products Division Europe of Parker Hannifin.





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