New reference materials for BET and pore size measurements available

For analytical instruments for the characterization of powders, particles and pores, there are corresponding standard materials for instrument testing. 3P Instruments offers many such reference and test materials, e.g. for testing the following analytical instruments:

3P Instruments offers a wide range of standard samples for the determination of specific surface areas from 0.1 – 1500 m2/g. This makes it possible to check BET instruments from any manufacturer and to choose the standard sample that most closely matches one’s own samples. Quantachrome and 3P analyzers supplied by us have been checked with a certified aluminum oxide before being put into operation. This standard material can be ordered from us and is also used by our service department when checking these Quantachrome and 3P devices.

3P Instruments now offers for the first time a standard microporous material that is specified not only for measurements with nitrogen at 77 K, but also for ISO and IUPAC compliant measurements with argon at 87 K and CO2 at 273 K. The background is that ISO 9277 for BET surface area and IUPAC 2015 recommendation for surfaces and micropores explain the nitrogen molecule as suboptimal to characterize many types of materials, and recommend the noble gas argon at 87 K as an alternative. Additionally, as practical applications like CO2 capture applications or gas separation studies become more and more relevant, the scope of providing this material is to ensure that laboratories can validate their test methods also for alternative gases and measurement temperatures. The 3P standard activated carbon material was tested in different laboratories as well as with different instruments from different suppliers. The figure shows the underlying sorption isotherms, and the table lists the specified parameters for the adsorption of argon at 87 K as an example.

Specified Values (Argon at 87 K):

ParameterValueUncertaintyCalculation Parameter
BET surface area:




+/- 35Multipoint BET, A = 0.142 nm²

p/p0 = 0.01 – 0.1

Total Pore Volume:


0.628+/- 0.027Gurvich, r = 1.400 g/cm³

p/p0 = 0.99

Micropore Volume:


0.512+/- 0.018DR-Method

p/p0 = 0.001 – 0.01

This standard material 3P-AC-reference is available from 3P Instruments under order no. 170183. You can also request the complete list of reference materials via in order to always be on the safe side within the scope of certifications, accreditations or simply for routine instrument checks.

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