Mikael Berqvist and Alexander Hansson discuss the evolution of an advanced scanning solution
Since its launch in 2018 Orexplore’s product, the GeoCore X10, has delivered XRF, density and computed tomography (CT) data of tens of thousands of metres of drill core to customers around the globe. Nevertheless, hurdles encountered for widespread adoption have ranged from scan speed, computational time, data access and chemical element coverage to compatible drill core diameters. Luckily, the company’s R&D team has been busy working to overcome these obstacles.
One way to speed up full-volume scanning is to go from scanning in a linear mode to scanning along a helical trajectory – a tempting way of data acquisition – getting all the data in one go, but in itself introducing more challenges. Although this was prepared for from the beginning (with synchronising of data streams), putting it all together took time. Compared with CT in hospitals, for instance, which has been using the helical scanning mode for ages, the challenges were the integration and fusion of many sensors at the same time to still produce all the data types and not only CT data. Algorithms had to be reworked and optimised. Once in place (2021), scanning speed was doubled while maintaining the quality.
Covering A Wider Range Of The Periodic Table
Since the system was introduced, greater sensitivity for lighter elements such as Al, Si and S has been achieved. One of the key components was to increase the openings in the tube itself. Engineering, simulation and design work led to a more rigid sample holder made of a carbon fibre reinforced polymer, a design resulting in not only better performance in measuring the less energetic signals from lighter elements, better mechanical stability and CT-images but also international patents.
Big Data Lends Itself To Data Mining
Scanning all core that is drilled produces a wealth of information. Recently it has been recognised that by treating this as a resource in its own right – often referred to as “Big Data” – and applying what is called “data mining”, new insights are gained. Suddenly patterns appear, the dots are connected, and what was grey rock comes alive. One example of this is finding and registering the type and orientation of geological structures.
Product Development Outlook
The accessible market for the GeoCore X10 includes primarily all drilled diamond core at diameters of 50.5mm and lower, but also stones, or crushed rock samples can be scanned. However, efforts are on the way to expand the capabilities in terms of drill core diameters up to 63.5mm through software and hardware modifications.
Orexplore Technologies was listed on the Australian Securities Exchange in January 2022, and the journey of product development, research and business development continues. Looking further ahead, updates within the areas of analysis software, sensing hardware and Orexplore Insight are expected.
Mikael Berqvist and Alexander Hansson are with Orexplore