Investment in New TIMS Instrumentation

Carol-Ann with TIMS

James Hutton Limited, along with the Macaulay Development Trust, has made a £500k investment in a new Thermal Ionisation Mass Spectrometer which will reinforce the extensive analytical chemistry capabilities of the James Hutton Institute.

Thermal ionisation mass spectrometry (TIMS) is an extremely sensitive analytical technique used to measure the relative abundance of radiogenic and stable isotopes with very high precision. It is extensively used in geochemistry applications, such as in the oil and gas industry and in the environmental sector.  The investment will allow James Hutton Limited, to provide inorganic isotope measurements with unrivalled levels of precision and accuracy.

Carol-Ann Craig, head of Inorganic Isotopic Analysis at the Institute, said: “Having state-of the-art TIMS capabilities puts the James Hutton Institute among the best academic organisations in the UK and across Europe.”

Head of James Hutton Limited, Dr Jonathan Snape, added: “This new analytical equipment, coupled with the scientific expertise needed to interpret the results, will enable James Hutton Limited to provide answers to a range of problems for customers from a variety of industries. The business is delighted to make this investment with the confidence that the new TIMS instrumentation will offer first class results.”

TIMS isotope analysis is a powerful tool in environmental provenance studies where varying appropriate isotopes can be used for tracing sources of pollutants, soils, waters and biological materials such as crops.

In the oil industry TIMS is commonly used to investigate the vertical and lateral connectivity of oil and gas reservoirs through the analysis of strontium in residual salts; this analysis can be carried out on cores that have been stored for decades or on wells where there is insufficient produced waters for analysis.

TIMS can also be used to date sedimentary rocks by analysing isotope signatures present in fossil remains of marine creatures. The provenance age of sedimentary strata can also be determined using samarium and neodymium isotopes which is particularly useful when bio-stratigraphy is not possible.

Other kinds of isotopic analysis are available from James Hutton Limited on many different sample types, including plant material, gases, phospholipid fatty acids and alkanes.