Zeiss tool put to work finding rock-encased hydrocarbons

October 6, 2009 – Houston, TX-based rock physics firm Ingrain is using an analytical tool from Carl Zeiss to generate ultrahigh-resolution images and analytical capabilities to explore shale rock properties and potential for extracting oil and gas from it.

The Zeiss tool being used, an Auriga CrossBeam FIB-SEM workstation, generates high-resolution 3D images to build the company’s "vRock," a digital capture of a rock sample’s structure, to obtain more detailed and more accurate properties analysis, according to company CEO Henrique Tono. Very thin slices (down to 5nm) of rock are removed by the FIB; the SEM creates high-res 3D images of the structure to reveal and distinguish between voids and minerals. The tool’s charge compensation system allows local application of an inert gas flush, which can neutralize charge buildup on nonconductive samples (like shale rock) and enable detection of secondary and backscattered electrons.

"Our customers, who are world leaders in oil and gas exploration, can now get more detailed, more accurate rock properties analyses. In essence, we are now able to provide more accurate, more complete information to support their decision making needs," stated Tono.

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