First results from a new program for chemical characterization of environmental particulates using synchrotron radiation are described. Trace element concentrations and chemical state determinations were made on fly ash samples from lignite‐fired power stations. The experiments were based on the use of x‐rays produced by an electron beam passing a bending magnet at the Brookhaven National Synchrotron Light Source. The high brilliance, energy tunability and almost complete polarization of the x‐rays were used as the basis of a versatile X‐ray microscope (XRM) at the X26 beam line. Mössbauer spectroscopy was employed as a complementary method for determination of the compounds in the iron‐containing fly ash particles. The results demonstrate the practicality and strengths of using the synchrotron XRM for measurements of trace elements in fly ash particles and for the determination of oxidation states using x‐ray absorption near‐edge structure.
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