SELFRAG Lab – Laboratory Fragmenter

As the name suggests, the SELFRAG Lab is a laboratory size instrument that features SELFRAG’s high voltage pulse power technology for the selective fragmentation of materials and minerals. It works in a batch fashion to liberate morphologically intact minerals, making it an excellent instrument for sample preparation.


The SELFRAG Lab is a compact, self-contained, stand-alone system. It has been designed and constructed to conform to EU standards.

The high voltage pulse power methodology fractures materials along grain boundaries and other physical discontinuities resulting in the production of mono mineral/compositional fractions and high yields of the target specimens.


The SELFRAG Lab is fully automated and simple to operate. The entire operation is complete within minutes and introduces no contamination making it ideal where purity is paramount.

The system is able to cater for kilogram-sized samples.

System Overview

Geochronology Studies at Macquarie University Rely on SelFrag

The Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences at Macquarie University is concerned with teaching geology and research into the geological processes occurring in the earths crust and mantel. Also, how these processes impact on mineral exploration, along with the many and various applications of geological knowledge.

Deep in the bowels of building E5A resides a SELFRAG Lab S1.1 high voltage electric pulse power disintegrator, installation number 7, in a purpose built laboratory. Steve Craven is the manager of the Mineral Processing Unit and administrator of the SELFRAG Lab.

When Associate Professor Bill Griffin described SELFRAG and asked Steve if he thought it could make a real contribution to the Department, Steve had no hesitation in responding in the affirmative. In his opinion, from past experience, the benefits that the SELFRAG would bring to the department were too great to pass up.

Steve explained, “Traditional crushing and separating methods are time consuming and laborious, damage the minerals grains and produce excessive fine material. The SELFRAG on the other hand is fast, produces fewer fines, preserves mineral integrity and produces fewer composite grains. SEFRAG disintegration occurs under water in a closed cell so there is less chance of contamination. Since commissioning the system 4 years ago it has been used constantly and performed well up to expectations.”

Geochronological studies using the mineral zircon account for much of the work performed by SELFRAG. This involves fragmenting rock to liberate the zircon crystals. Zircons contain uranium, which over time is changed to lead by radioactive decay. The ratio of uranium to lead, which is time dependent, is measured and used to date the mineral. The SELFRAG is suited to this application as it can be set to produce a good percentage of samples in the optimal size range to aid the liberation of zircon.

The usage of the facility has grown quickly since it was commissioned. Steve has trained many people to use the SELFRAG Lab including students. If a few basic rules are followed, the operation of the system is very simple. The product of the SELFRAG Lab is of such a quality that its services are now sort after by other universities and institutions across NSW.

A short while ago, a Self rag technician came and carried out the 500,000 pulse service. He commented on how new the system looked which is a credit to Steve and how well he has maintained it, especially considering the amount of work put through the system.

“Purchasing the SELFRAG Lab has proven to be an excellent decision, one that is in accord with the multi-million dollar analytical facility it serves” says Steve. The only question now is how soon the technician will be back to carry out the 1 million-cycle service.

Selfrag lab at Macquarie University under the watchful eye of Dr. Steve Craven

Dr. Steve Craven and his SelFrag Lab at Macquarie University.

A number of accessories are available to help tailor the SELFRAG Lab to your specific application. These include:

The following application notes relating to the SELFRAG Lab, laboratory fragmenter are available for download:

Overview of the SelFrag Lab

Closed Vessel Assembly

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