Innovative application of medical technical could detect oil leaks

16 November 2012

Posted by Michelle Devonshire

A new breakthrough by scientists in the UK could prove of great value to the oil industry.

Researchers from Cambridge Consultants have devised an innovative new use for medical technology that may detect leaks caused by faulty welding and other problems in underwater pipes or on the seabed.

The engineers have appropriated technology usually used for fertility testing and other medical diagnoses such as pregnancy tests to assist the oil industry by using sensors to identify light emitted by crude oil.

By employing the natural fluorescence emitted by crude oil, the experts claim the innovation could be used to pinpoint oil leaks before they reach the surface of the water and assist with identifying the source of the problem.

The new platform can detect natural fluorescence of tiny amounts of oil in water and is being developed to provide a "compact, robust system that can be permanently installed" underwater.

Dr Frances Metcalfe, Cambridge Consultants Associate Director of Oil and Gas, commented: “;The environmental impact of oil and gas leaks has never been more visible to the public - with the recent disaster in the Gulf of Mexico - yet the solutions currently available do not meet all the requirements in terms of performance and reliability."

The platform could provide a cheaper and simpler alternative to using long-range radar and scanners on board aircraft to identify spills.

Cambridge Consultants, which specializes in product development engineering and technology, also announced recently that it has designed an innovative new auto-injector concept that is intended to improve the experience of women undergoing IVF treatment.

The piOna fertility product is for the administration of regular injections of progesterone in oil, which is one of the most stressful parts of the IVF process and can prove difficult for patients, with the auto-injector guiding patients through the process.

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