A new hand-held device for rapid on-site analysis of petroleum soil contamination could facilitate quicker and smarter clean-up decisions and significant cost savings.
Developed by the Australian research organisation CSIRO and Ziltek, the RemScam device uses an infrared signal to directly measure petroleum hydrocarbons in soil.
The traditional method for measuring petroleum contamination involves sending soil samples to a laboratory and waiting several days for the results.
South Australian-based waste remediation company Ziltek has had significant demand from the mining sector, where petroleum spills are costly because they divert resources away from the core business. RemScam allows an emergency-response team to quickly delineate the spill and validate the clean-up area with increased certainty — all in the same day.
‘An average mid-size remediation firm in Australia will spend around A$250,000 [£212,000] on soil petroleum analysis each year,’ said Dr Richard Stewart, managing director of Ziltek. ‘We now have a way to quickly assess the risks at a spill site; RemScan can cut this bill by up to 50 per cent resulting in an annual cost saving of up to A$125,000 per annum.’
According to the team, RemScan also decreases the number of samples that require laboratory analysis, resulting in further cost reductions.
The technology is the subject of several global patent applications and has been granted full patent status in Australia.