Protecting the marine environment with low-impact hydrocarbon sensing

To support the industry’s transition towards Net Zero, we are committed to developing low-impact, robust sensors for monitoring and protecting
the marine environment.

The challenge

There are nearly 500 oil and gas structures nearing end-of-life in UK waters alone, and thousands worldwide. Decommissioning of these structures typically requires environmental assessment and continued monitoring, which currently relies on dedicated ships and teams of people offshore.

As the UK transitions towards Net-Zero, low carbon solutions are required to reduce greenhouse gas emissions whilst maintaining the capability to carry out effective surveys. To achieve this, low cost and long-range vehicles are required, along with a suite of low power and accurate sensors.

The solution

The Autonomous Techniques for infraStructure Ecological Assessment (AT-SEA) project, led by NOC, explored the use of Autosub Long Range (AKA Boaty McBoatface) to survey the NW Hutton and Miller decommissioned infrastructures and Braemar Pockmarks Marine Protected Area over a 22-day period.

The remotely operated underwater vehicle was fitted with a variety of sensors, including Chelsea’s UviLux PAH+, gathered data on the properties of the seawater, pollutants, and currents and photographs of the seabed. The PAH+ sensor is a UV fluorometer designed for real time, in-situ detection of hydrocarbons. UV fluorescence is a highly sensitive measurement technique, and the sensor has excellent turbidity and ambient light rejection, making it well-suited for detecting the
presence of hydrocarbons at extremely low concentrations.

The result

The ALR was successfully launched and recovered from the shores of Shetland and consumed a fraction of the fuel than that of a typical ship survey. The UviLux PAH+ produced real time hydrocarbon data that was available to operators and researchers thousands of kilometres away, providing remote awareness and assisting decision making.

UviLux PAH+

Chelsea Technologies’ UviLux PAH+ is a robust UV fluorometer designed for real time, in situ detection of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH). The inclusion of absorbance measurements allows users to correct for environmental interference and extend the dynamic range.

The compact and highly sensitive fluorometer is suitable for integration into autonomous platforms and operates over a wide dynamic range, making it ideal for a range of environmental studies.

  • Full PAH Range – Full 0 – 4,500μg/L PAH phe eq measurement
  • Two year calibration intervals allowing for uninterrupted monitoring
  • Easy integration allowing for a wide range of data output options and input voltages
  • Low power consumption < 1 Watt @ 12 V
  • 1000m depth rating

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