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Our Solutions: Testing

Differential Scanning Calorimetry (DSC)


Our UK laboratory generates thermal screening and reaction calorimetry test data for your hazardous materials or reactions. The Differential Scanning Calorimetry (DSC) test is conducted as a screening method to assess the presence and extent of enthalpic (heats) changes and to approximate the onset temperatures and thermal properties of solids, liquids or slurries. Qualitative information regarding material vaporisation and melting onsets also help to assess reaction hazards over a large temperature range.

The DSC test can detect potentially hazardous reactions from volatile chemicals while estimating the probability of a hazard and the time at which a hazardous reaction may occur.

The Sigma-HSE Advantage

Sigma-HSE is your single solution provider for a full range of thermal screening and calorimetry testing.

Our dedicated team of experts are committed to helping you identify potential reactive chemical hazards in your processes.

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Frequently asked questions

The Differential Scanning Calorimeter (DSC) is a widely used thermal analysis instrument and is conducted as a screening method to assess the extent and presence of enthalpic changes and to approximate both the onset temperatures and decomposition enthalpies (heats) (heats) of solids, liquids or slurries. Very small sample sizes of 5-10 mg are used, complimenting lab-stage process developments for hazard assessment.

This test is conducted by inserting the desired material and a thermally inert reference material into isolated crucibles within the instrument. Both the testing sample and the reference material are then simultaneously heated at a controlled rate of 2 °C/min to 20 °C/min under an equilibrated atmosphere. As the furnace temperature ramps up at the desired rate, the temperature difference between the sample and reference are recorded as heat flow (Δq) and is associated with changes in enthalpy of the sample.

Thermal transitions in state (solid-liquid, liquid-vapour, glass transitions) typically come with an endothermic heat flow as the sample takes on energy to achieve a higher energy state, whereas thermal decompositions typically involve chemical bond breaking and heat release as exothermic energy. These exothermic events pose a key hazard in processes.

Characteristics such as Specific Heat Capacity can also be elucidated from DSC analysis.

Analysis of the data is performed to indicate possible hazardous events in the context of your processes.

The DSC test can detect potentially hazardous reactions from volatile chemicals while estimating the severity of a hazard and the conditions in which a hazardous reaction may occur. The DSC can also be used as an early-stage test for detecting the potentially thermally hazardous nature of uncharacterised materials.

The DSC test is often run as a screening test complimentary to Carius Tube test, as it provides the valuable Heat of reaction data calculated from temperature and heat flow not available from the Carius Tube.

How to get your materials tested

Receive quick and accurate DSC testing data in just a few simple steps

Contact us

Get in touch with one of our experts so we can learn more about your specific process, unit operations and testing requirements. We'll then generate and send you a customised quote.

Prepare & ship

Prepare your samples including Material Safety Data Sheets where applicable, and ship them to our UK laboratory.

Calorimetry, Analysis & Reports

Once we've received your samples, we'll begin testing, measuring and analysing. We'll then create and send you a custom in-depth report detailing the potentially hazardous properties of your materials.

Post-Project Support

If you need support after receiving your report, our after-project support team will be on hand to assist you with any questions you may have about your materials. We can also aid you in your understanding of what hazard prevention measures will be most suitable for your processes.

We also undertake the following thermal screening and calorimetry tests to simulate full scale process, and process upset conditions. ​

Please contact us if you have any bespoke combustible dust or powder testing requirements, or if you require consultancy services related to powder and combustible dust explosion safety.

Test your materials

Getting your hazardous materials tested is an important step to prevent fires, explosions and other process-related hazards. Get in touch to learn more about how we can assist you in keeping your process plant and unit operations safe from the risks of thermal runaway.


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