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Big donation goes toward UW energy research

Jan 20, 2013 - The Associated Press

CHEYENNE -- A multimillion-dollar corporate donation announced Friday will help scientists at the University of Wyoming take an extremely magnified look at the type of rocks that hold oil and gas deposits, university officials said.

State funding will match the $4.4 million donation from New York City-based Hess Corp. to the UW School of Energy Resources.

"We recognize that we have some brilliant minds at work at UW now. We want to add to that," Gov. Matt Mead said at the announcement in the state Capitol rotunda.

The money will go toward equipment to study oil- and gas-bearing rock at the nano scale, enabling people to see things smaller, even, than a virus -- all the way down to objects and features measuring 1 nanometer, or one-billionth of a meter.

Looking that closely can help scientists better understand how oil and gas flows through rock.

That, in turn, could help companies discover new ways to get oil and gas out of the ground, said Mohammad Piri with UW's School of Energy Resources.

"It is essential for us to perform multi-scale research to understand the physics behind oil and gas recovery techniques," Piri said after the announcement.

Equipment to be used, he said, will include a focused ion beam scanning electron microscope and a nano CT scanner. The university bought the equipment in December and plans to install it this spring.

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