Addressing the technological challenges, and competition, behind the paradigm-shifting technology of the GeoCore X10 are two physicists, Mikael Twengström and Johan Schött. They discuss the advantages of ‘spiral scanning’ and dispel the myth that physics is boring.
— Please introduce yourselves
Both of us, (Johan & Mikael) joined Orexplore summer 2019, and have backgrounds in computational and theoretical physics. Orexplore is empowering us to apply our knowledge in real world applications like with the GeoCore X10.
The word physicist is a noun filled with mixed feelings for many. For us physics is all about intriguing challenges and amusing the curious child within, while contributing both to the development of Orexplore and science in a single hit.
— What are you working on at the moment?
Right now, we are writing code for asyncifying some internal functions in our main backend. In layman’s terms, we are working on improving the scan speed of the GeoCore X10 to make it more competitive on the market. Scanning a drill core takes time and making it go faster without reducing the quality while getting some physics in at the same time really helps run it more smoothly in our opinion. One part of the scanning is about X-ray tomography, which means taking several 2D images and processing them to enable a view inside the scanned object. At Orexplore, the scanned objects are drill cores of unknown contents.
— How did this project start?
The project stems from the fact that the GeoCore X10 confronts a long established industry process of how drill cores are analysed. To improve the possibilities of the GeoCore X10 to repel competition we wanted to make the machine operate or process the analysis of drill core faster. Today we use what, in-house, is called ring scan mode and by replacing the scanning procedure to what we call helical scan mode the processing time per meter core can be reduced.
— Please explain your thinking and the process behind:
What do we mean by helical scan? It sounds more fancy than it is, the meaning is Greek and loosely translates as ‘twisted’ or spiral. In the GeoCore X10 of today the core is inserted into the machine through a meter long sample holder. Once inside the actual scanning, or data collection as we say, is conducted by moving a platform which has the detector on one side and the X-ray source on the other one leaving the core in the middle. The conceptual idea of the spiral is now to rotate the core while the platform moves downwards, hence, creating a spiral line of where the X-ray light hits the core. This is actually similar to how X-ray tomography is performed at modern health care facilities, in order to look at e.g. broken bones. This helical mode enables a continuous scan of the whole core which avoids the slow process in ring mode where the platform is consecutively moved to different heights to collect data in a ring fashion. This acceleration and deceleration of the platform can be eliminated in helical mode. Considering numerous lines of code edits and lines produced we have after tackling obstacles produced a faster scanner without scaling down quality.
— What are the true benefits with spiral scanning?
From a quality perspective the benefits are scarce or not necessarily benefits but spiral scan mode reduces operation time. Compare it with a car which suddenly becomes twice as fast; the car is still giving you all the qualities and comforts as before, but now it does it in half the time. To be able to process core faster, enabling more scanned core per hour, can increase productivity without cutting down on the quality of a scan.
— What does this mean for production?
Building an integrated X-ray system is a dexterous task and requires a broad expertise from everyone involved. Orexplore is competitive due to the knowledge we possess on a wide engineering scale. Mechanical engineers, production managers, software and hardware developers, physicists; all come together to produce an amazing machine which can facilitate rock exploration. From a production perspective this means that Orexplore’s product, the GeoCore X10, will be more attractive on the market because we are closing the gap as being an alternative or complement for chemical analysis.
— What is your goal and when will the spiral scanning be implemented?
In the future Orexplore and the GeoCore X10 is a fully integrated X-ray system with even more functionality than today. We will invest our hard thinking and hopefully be able to equip the machine with more sophisticated machinery to make it able to discover elements in the whole periodic table. Helical scanning is but one step to revolutionise the rate at which analysis of core can be performed. Spiral scanning will be deployed gradually during the rest of the year.— Read More → GeoCore X10