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Advantest Rock System installed at St. Francis University - USA

CONTROLS Group USA has recently completed the installation of a laboratory for the characterization of rock deposits from a mechanical point of view, focused specifically on the determination of peak and residual strength parameters at the "St. Francis University" in Loretto, Pennsylvania.

The most important equipment to perform this type of investigation is represented by Advantest Rock System, designed to carry out in automatic mode triaxial tests on cylindrical rock samples constrained in Hoek cells. The tests can be set up and performed automatically both under stress and under displacement control, so that it is also possible to monitor and record the behaviour of the rocks in the after-failure conditions (for the test performed under displacement control mode) and define the residual strength parameters.

In addition, the system allows the so-called "multistage" triaxial tests to be carried out; that is triaxial tests, where subsequent steps of increasing isotropic pressure are applied to the rock sample and for each of them the axial deviatoric stress is also increased under displacement feedback control, towards the failure conditions; only for the last step of isotropic pressure the rock samples is left to break. After failure, similar automatic procedure is continued in reverse mode, by reducing the isotropic pressure, so that the residual strength can be measured for each step of decreasing pressure . This method of testing allows several points of peak and residual strength to be measured for different levels of cell pressure, with a single rock sample, for the determination of the relevant failure envelopes.

The provision of an Advantest Rocks System by the St. Francis University in Loretto (Pennsylvania) is part of an extensive research program, aimed for the characterization of the rock masses enclosing gas and petroleum deposits.

The Petroleum and Natural Gas Engineering (PNGE) four-years bachelor of science degree offered by St. Francis University, is a rigorous engineering program focusing on reservoir, production and drilling engineering enhanced by a foundation of environmental stewardship, always keeping in mind the need for sustainable resource management from an environmental point of view.

The programs of PNGE career mostly include design, investigation and research activities, that can bring a concrete impact in real situations. In details, class projects and research are conducted in small groups working closely with faculty mentors and provided with advanced laboratory equipment, software and computing methods.

Unlike most existing undergraduate programs in petroleum engineering, where theoretical analysis and hypothetical design projects are predominant, at Saint Francis University the students operate with equipment, software and hardware, manufactured according to the international standard and available also in the gas & oil industry, Typically, the students face real problems and data, provide working experience at multiple points, present their research at regional, national and international conferences and have the opportunity to get contact with the industrial world, even before completing the four-year graduate program.

Saint Francis University, the oldest Franciscan University of the United States, established in 1847 by six Franciscan teaching brothers from Ireland, rises in Loretto (Cambria County - Pennsylvania), in the region of Allegheny Mountains, inside the Appalachian Basin, one of the most important coal producing regions in the US and one of the biggest in the world. The Appalachian Basin has had a long history of oil and gas production: not far from Loretto the small town of Titusville rises, where in the summer of 1859, the first oil well in history was excavated by "Colonel" Edwin Drake, reaching a depth of about 21 meters.