A lot has been made of the devastating effect detecting oil has on the surrounding environment. Putting aside the fact that we’d rather not see the oil taken in the first place, CSIRO Australia scientists have developed a new technique that will minimize the destruction of the environment when searching for petroleum hydrocarbons, commonly derived from crude oil.
The revolutionary technique means that the presence of petroleum hydrocarbons can now be ascertained simply by using a hand-held infrared spectrometer at the site of interest.
This is a change from the standard need to take samples and then perform a series of tests and processing to work out whether the site of interest is actually of interest.
As with much advancement in technology there is a happy by-product in this new technique. The technique will also be useful in assessing and monitoring sites contaminated with oil, such as coastal land affected by an oil spill and industrial sites which are being redeveloped for human population.
“Petroleum hydrocarbons are a valuable resource, but can also be pretty nasty environmental contaminants,” says CSIRO scientist, Sean Forrester.
“They can remain in the environment for extended periods of time and can be harmful to wildlife, plants and humans. Better tools to detect them makes a rapid response possible.”