I-Corps: High-frequency ultrasound technology for the detection of micro and nano porosity, shale softening and anisotropy of materials

Project: Research project

Project Details


The broader impact/commercial potential of this I-Corps project is the development of a novel ultrasound technology to characterize deep geological media for energy exploration and waste disposal. The incorporation of high frequency ultrasound technology is investigated to non-destructively obtain the rock porosities. By developing an in situ device to determine the porosity of a rock matrix, the team seeks to determine the extent of softening that occurs due to fracking. This technology has potential for use in a wide variety of infrastructure applications. By developing a new method to determine the porosity of rock matrices and the in-situ rock permeabilities directly in the field and at a smaller scale (in the nano and micro ranges), this research team seeks to increase the productivity of companies that require (in)direct seismic data acquisition (e.g., Drilling Engineers, Wireline Engineers, Seismic Acquisition Engineers, Seismic Processing Engineers, Petro-Physicists and Geophysicists).This I-Corps project is based on the development of high-frequency ultrasound technology. Ultrasound technology is a non-destructive technology that generates mechanical waves from ultrasound transducers. The technique has been increasingly utilized in studying the lithology of the Earth. The in-situ use of ultrasound coupled with a new modelling capabilities, may provide a quicker, more environmentally friendly, and inexpensive alternative to field investigation. The new technology will be used ot determine the porosity of rock matricies as well as the possible softening that occurs due to fracking. The wave velocity can be determined by transmitting high-frequency ultrasound waves (>200Hz) through the rock specimens and relating the measured velocity to micro- and nano-scale voids. Once the wave velocity function has been determined, the team will transmit a range of higher frequencies whose wavelengths are closer to the size or micro- and nano-scale voids in the rock matrix. The attenuation, time, and velocity of the waves at higher frequencies will be compared to determine the porosity.This award reflects NSF's statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation's intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.
Effective start/end date5/1/2210/31/22


  • National Science Foundation: $50,000.00


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