Singapore-based deeptech startup in the field of commercial quantum sensing Atomionics and Australia-based energy firm Bridgeport Energy have deployed the first-ever quantum gravity sensor or “virtual drill” for commercial resource discovery, heralding a new era in precision exploration.

Atomionics said in a statement on Tuesday that in the first surveying expedition of its kind with Bridgeport Energy, the firm has captured gravity data to identify potential resources underground.

It noted that gravity data is the fastest and least invasive way to identify the potential density of objects–like rocks that could contain oil deposits or metals critical for electric vehicles like lithium, copper, cobalt and nickel–beneath the surface of the earth.

According to the statement, Atomionics’ device, a quantum gravimeter called Gravio, works like a “virtual drill” that packs the technology usually constrained to an atomic physics laboratory into a portable, basketball-sized sensor.

The advanced capabilities of Gravio’s quantum sensors uses cold atom interferometry, the same science that can detect black holes and gravitational waves.

Gravio’s virtual drilling will make precision mining possible and drastically reduce the need for physical bore holes required for resource exploration—a typically hit-or-miss process with only 10 percent accuracy.

“This milestone is not just about Atomionics—virtual drilling means the entire energy ecosystem can avoid unnecessary physical drills,

“Gravio’s deployment in Australia marks the beginning of a new chapter in resource exploration, where efficiency, accuracy, and environmental responsibility are accessible realities,” said Sahil Tapiawala, Chief Executive Officer and Co-Founder of Atomionics.

According to the statement, traditional resource exploration methods are labor-intensive, with geologists manually collecting data over extensive areas.

This process often results in low-resolution mapping where one pixel represents an area as large as a football field.

Conversely, Gravio, easily transportable in an sports utility vehicle (SUV), promises to deliver a map with spatial resolution down to the size of a couple of pizza boxes.

The surveying deployment with Bridgeport Energy took place in Western Queensland, Australia at a remote space spanning about 100 sq km.

Gravio was securely installed in an SUV, facilitating the collection of absolute gravity data to identify potential sites with oil deposits.

The region presents diverse environmental challenges when compared with a controlled laboratory setting, including rain, wind, and temperature fluctuations and terrain variations ranging from grassy expanses to muddy and rocky areas.

“Science and technology are catching up with the goals of precision resource exploration,

“We see the possibility to move away from traditional, invasive methods to a more precise, non-intrusive approach,” said Cameron Fink, Exploration Manager at Bridgeport Energy.

According to him, the energy industry would traditionally defer to seismic data before undertaking any drilling project.

“With further development, Gravio can present as a low-cost alternative to traditional methods of exploration,

“As this technology matures, with Atomionics, we can imagine a new standard in resource exploration, enhancing accuracy and reducing dry holes,” he added.

According to the statement, the quantum sensor system is not only a technological leap but also a step towards a more precise and environmentally conscious approach to resource exploration and extraction.

With Gravio, it is possible to map the earth’s crust with more precision and pinpoint resource locations, a stark contrast to environmentally detrimental trial-and-error-based practices.

The deployment of Gravio aligns with global green energy goals too.

By enabling precise mapping and detection of critical resources like copper, cobalt, lithium, nickel, and zinc, essential for the burgeoning electric vehicle battery sector, Gravio is set to play a pivotal role in the transition to a sustainable energy mix.

According to the statement, Atomionics’ development of Gravio is the fruit of collaborative efforts by a multidisciplinary team of physicists, engineers, and artificial intelligence (AI) specialists at Atomionics.

Atomionics most recently gained support from the likes of In-Q-Tel, Singapore’s SEEDs Capital and key strategic angels like Pamela Vagata (one of the founders of OpenAI), Keith Adams (Chief Architect at Slack and previously led Meta’s AI research team), Alex Turnbull (prolific fund manager) and Mikhail Zeldovich (Chief Executive Officer Trafigura Mongolia and Vietnam).

Previously investors include Wavemaker Partners SGINNOVATE and Cap Vista, the investment arm of Singapore Defense, Paspalis and 500 Global.

“Secure and resilient critical mineral supply chains have become essential for national security, economic security and technological advancement across a range of industries,” Justin Wilder, Managing Director at In-Q-Tel said.

According to him, identifying and partnering with technology development firms providing leading-edge exploration innovations to mine operators and resource extraction firms, particularly those with the capability to efficiently identify unique minerals and geological structures, is both a market differentiator and a necessary advancement in the critical mineral supply chain.

“Atomionics has made tremendous progress in bringing their capability from concept to reality,

“IQT is excited to be a part of Atomionic’s journey to bring commercial quantum gravity sensors and precision resource exploration services to an industry critical to modern technology,” he added.

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