ct scanner lab

Computed Tomography (CT) scanning allows researchers to observe the inner structures of geological core samples. Used in conjunction with NETL's Core Flow Laboratory and computational research capabilities, the CT Scanner Laboratory enables researchers to evaluate what happens to materials as a result of carbon storage. Carbon storage is a promising technique for reducing greenhouse gases, such as carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, by injecting captured CO2 into geologic formations. This technique also has been shown effective in enhancing oil recovery and displacing coal bed methane.

The CT Scanner Laboratory provides imaging data that can be used for computer simulations, economic evaluations, and site characterizations. The scanner generates a three-dimensional (3-D) image of an object's structure by collecting and combining many 2-D X-ray images. Coal, rock, and other geological samples are imaged to measure how liquids, gases, and solids flow through them, or to measure other rock-fluid phenomena, such as how CO2 is adsorbed or absorbed in coal cores. The measurements provide information on the actual distribution of minerals and fluids inside samples, rather than providing merely average measurements.

When used in conjunction with other techniques, the non-invasive CT imaging process yields fundamental information on flow and geological properties that may provide insight into the technical and economic feasibility of CO2 storage. For example, geologic storage site evaluation logs are used to develop interactive, 3-D displays from the geological and engineering data. NETL's software resources, FLUENT and EarthVision, are used along with visualization hardware to provide static (e.g., a conventional geologic model) or time-dependent ( e.g., interactive flow and geomechanical simulation) data. These displays allow researchers to simultaneously view, interpret, and develop future plans for geologic sequestration processes and related coal and oil programs.

NETL is collaborating with Carnegie Mellon University and West Virginia University engineering and physics departments to evaluate specific mineral cores (deep coal seams and brine-saturated sandstone formations) at realistic pressures while simultaneously observing changes in pore fluids, mineral densities, and effective molecular weights. CT Scanner Laboratory researchers also collaborate with colleagues from other CT laboratories, including those of Pennsylvania State University and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. NETL's CT scanner is potentially available for additional projects.

CT Scanner Features:


  • Manufacturer: Universal Systems, Inc.
  • Model: HD350 E, refurbished and upgraded medical unit
  • Up to 140 kV and 400 mA tube power with up to 4s scan time/slice
  • Small voxel size: 250 micron spatial resolution, 25 micron detection limit, 1mm slice thickness
  • Large core scanning capability
  • Dual energy scanning capability for determination of atomic numbers

For more information contact: T. Robert McLendon or Duane H. Smith