Oil Spill Recovery/Detection with UV light

General brief overview of systems for oil spill detection

There are different systems onboard that has different purpose during oil spill operations. To get an overview of a situation an OIL SPILL RADAR system is commonly used. This system can show the total area and moving directions of the oil spill. The radar information is normally integrated with other information giving systems – wind directions, waves and currents for example.

For identification and estimation of the total quantity of the spill the area information by the radar can be combined with OPTICAL and INFRARED CAMERA information that can estimate the thickness in different segments of the spill.

As a complement to the above systems UV-LIGHT is used for short distance detection and presentation during the actual collection of the oil spill, this to physically visualize the oil spill for the operational staff on the vessel or on land during day and night time to simplify the work and reduce the impact on nature.

UV-LIGHT – how does it work?

Different types of oil contain different combinations of minerals that are fluorescent. Fluorescence is a physical reaction trigged by either chemicals or by electromagnetic radiation. The trigger releases absorbed light energy (the photons) in the substance material and it starts to glow. Can be likened with giving an electrical current to a light bulb or diod – it starts to glow when giving energy to it.

The phenomena that happens when addressing UV-light to oil is, depending on type of oil, that due to the fluorescence, the oil change color. The color is by human eye percepted as white almost like milk in color. Secondly the short radiation wavelength of UV-light is not reflected by water so when addressing the light on water with oil, the oil spill will be visible as a white film on the water. At daytime the natural UV-light from the sun make oil or petrol on sea surface shimmer which is exactly the same process.

UV-LIGHT by ColorLight

One important key for a platform carrying UV-light is the combination of UV-radiation in a certian wavelenght and the possibility to address the light both far away from the vessel and more important very close to the hull – this to be a support to the operational crew working with the actual oil spill. Depending on the type of vessel and the main purpose there are some different solutions in terms of power. Some examples:

Smaller harbor or river pollution vessels. Very suitable with a smaller combination version CLUV25-12  with normal white light for search and rescue and a UV-light for oil spill.

Offshore oil spill response vessels operating around Oil Platforms or standby salvation vessels for potential environmental disasters will most likely need more powerful systems either combination with white light like CLUV35-12 or even CLUV35-22 for the extreme UV-power.

On shore / Port Based Solutions for offloading control of tanker vessels. A network of multiple units can be organized to have a total system solution.