X-ray micro-tomography (XRT) has become an important non-destructive technique in material science, both in terms of optimisation of material properties as well as improved understanding of the mechanisms that create their microstructure. It is now increasingly used to study the microstructure of porous ice and snow. Applications with respect to ice in the environment include atmospheric ice particles, snow and polar firn, sea ice, frozen soil as well as hydrate-ice media. Industrial fields for which ice microstructure is relevant include the food industry, where crystal structure and pore space relates to food quality, ice cream production as well as refrigeration technology. All fields share the potential to make considerable progress by non-destructive 3-d tomographic imaging of the ice porous media concerned with. They also share several challenges during XRT measurements, e.g. (i) proper sample cooling during imaging, (ii) trade-off between spatial resolution and sample sizes to observe crystal structure, (iii) upscaling of properties to larger samples, (iv) enhancement of contrast between ice, fat/oil and impurities, (v) in situ studies of ice freezing/melting and metamorphosis; (vi) need for high spatial and temporal resolution and enhanced contrast: which opportunities offers synchrotron-based XRT?
Having organised two international events on the topic in 2017, the present action aims to continue in this direction by means of a national network activity. The network's objective is to offer interested Norwegian researchers (as well as actors from industry) a simplified rapid opportunity to test X-ray microtomographic imaging for their field samples and applications:
1. Participants obtain field ice/snow samples and transport these to NTNU Trondheim
2. Imaging, image processing and basic analysis is performed at RECX/NTNU.
3. Results are discussed and compared at network meetings
4. Network meetings will allow further joint actions/applications