A company based in Aarhus, Jutland, has developed an Oil Spill Identification System (OSIS) that is capable of providing 24/7 online surveillance enabling accurate and objective measurement of oil spilled into the marine environment. Having been tested on Danish ships and oil rigs, the product is expected to be launched on the world market next year.
Part of the system uses microwaves in a conceptually similar way to conventional radar. Pulsed microwaves are beamed over the ocean surface, where the waves reflect them back to the sensor. If there is oil on the surface of the sea, the waves are suppressed and there is no return signal. The system is thus instantly alerted to an oil spillage. Two other sensors operating at progressively higher frequencies then swing into action to scan passive radiation from the affected area, which enables the thickness of the oil slick to be determined.
The new system offers a significant step forward from the current periodic aerial surveillance model which can detect oil spillages but cannot easily identify the perpetrator, to a simultaneous monitoring model with the capacity to alert onshore stations with hard data within minutes of an oil spill, whether from a fixed installation like an oil rig or a moving vessel.
The system has cost DKK 60 m (USD 11.4 m) to develop and is financed by the Danish Environmental Protection Agency, the Danish Enterprise and Construction Authority, the EU and the CEO of OSIS Peter Moeller Jensen. Commercialising the system will cost around DKK 50 m (USD 9.5 m), and OSIS is currently looking for investors.
The news was reported by professional journal Ingeniøren (The Engineer) and on OSIS' website.