Proximate analysis is a type of scientific inquiry done to determine the approximate amounts of substances within a material. This is utilized by different types of scientists to study such things as animal feed, coal, and bio-fuels. The process of proximate analysis is complicated and often involves either extraction or remote sensing to determine the varying amount of substances within one material, though different methods are used for different materials. This information can be used to create quality controls for various materials, ensure that they do not contain hazardous chemicals, and determine whether they are healthy enough to be consumed by humans or animals.
Scientist begin proximate analysis by getting a sample of the material ready to use. The size of the sample and the methods for readying it vary depending on the type of material being analyzed. Once the material has been readied, the sample is analyzed using one of a few recognized techniques. Extraction is a means of utilizing additional substances and chemicals to bring certain substance out of the material so that they can be examined and measured. Remote sensing uses machines and robots to examine the material and estimate of which it is composed.
After the sample has been analyzed using one of these techniques, an analysis of the components can be done. Analysis is performed using both qualitative and quantitative techniques to form measurements and provide scientists with answers to their questions. The precise instruments used for analysis depend on the sample being tested and the goals of the scientists in the experiment.
One major goal of proximate analysis is to determine if there are hazardous substances in a sample of material. In such industries as oil and coal, this can determine whether the item is safe to be used in vehicles or burnt, respectively. Environmental regulations require that this information is tested to ensure that dangerous fumes are not entering into the atmosphere over a certain predetermined level. The materials must have certain substances in them in order to pass the quality control standards that are heavily regulated in most countries.
Another major use of proximate analysis is to find out if food items are safe for human and animal consumption. For livestock, feed is tested to ensure that it contains enough protein, fats, and carbohydrates for healthy animals. In human food, nutrient levels are tested to determine the levels of each within the product, as well as such things as protein, fats, and carbohydrates.