Oil shale, a fine-grained sedimentary rock, contains significant amounts of kerogen, which, when heated can release hydrocarbons, or fossil fuel. Researchers look at shale porosity at both the macro and nano scale to determine the potential of shale deposits to produce economically viable sources of oil and natural gas.
Shale is notoriously difficult to prepare for SEM by widely accepted mechanical means because it crumbles and smears, obscuring the features of the sample.
– To study porosity, a well-prepared, flat sample is imperative. The JEOL cross section polisher
prepares pristine cross sections without deformation of the shale sample. Many energy companies have selected the JEOL CP for its unmatched ability to produce a flat surface with no smearing or crumbling, allowing easy imaging in the SEM.
SEM Imaging and Compositional Analysis
– The JEOL JSM-IT800 SEM
produces detailed images of the nanopores. Using the SEM’s LABe (low angle backscatter) detector allows unprecedented contrast that clearly differentiates between kerogen, pyrite crystals, and deposits of clay, carbonates and quartz.
– The polished sample can be accurately sectioned and subsequently reconstructed in 3D to show the pore network structure using the JEOL Focused Ion Beam system