Aiprox drones: Optical detection of sea oil and gas leaks


This is the most versatile system that allows an effective detection in most cases, in floating spills and up to 1m deep, its effectiveness depends on the thermal difference between the spot and the environment, in this marine case.

Since the temperature of the marine environment is known, and can be measured as an average in the inspection itself, and has an almost negligible variation in surface and the cameras of high thermal sensitivity have an accuracy of + - 2ºC, detections can be made when the surface of the discharge has a difference of 3ºC of temperature with respect to the water.

In extremely cold environments and without solar radiation this method reduces its effectiveness, but we understand that this case will be punctual and can be palliated with the comparison of conventional vision cameras. Actually the main problem is that in most cases an image scanning task can be performed for automatic detection, instead in more extreme climates, a manual inspection of images that rule out possible system errors must also be performed.

The automatic detection threshold will be set through radiation sensors located in the device that will give the order of manual inspection of the result.

This system bases its effectiveness on the buoyancy in water (surface marine 1.025 g / ml), therefore the liquids, the heavier than the water, the longer it will take to be detected from the vanishing point. The following table shows the different densities of petroleum derivatives that can usually be found in loading docks or extraction platforms as well as detection through LWIR:





Heavy Fuel Oil


0.94 - 1.05 Kg/l


Light Fuel Oil


0.46 Kg/l



0.68 Kg/l



0.86 Kg/l




0.72 Kg/l


Crude Oil


0.87 Kg/l


Crude Oil


0.92 Kg/l


Crude Oil


1 Kg/l


Crude Oil


+1 Kg/l


Optical support methods:
There are other optical detection methodologies that may be interesting as a second or third option and to install according to the previous result of the LWIR system: Support of short and medium spectrum IR cameras: They are generally less effective in contrast than the LWIR, they are larger and heavier in general and provide only support at times when long wave cameras lose effectiveness. For its cost it can be a technology to be applied at first, especially in visible + SWIR to have quality night images.

Image in the UV spectrum:
It can help in some cases to delimit the spots by their behavior in the reflection of the UV spectrum by improving the performance of the thermal cameras.

Laser polarization:
The emission of a laser beam and the polarized capture of its reflection is an effective method provided that the contaminated area can be previously identified, therefore it is a methodology to be taken into account in those cases but it is not essential, it is applied once detected the stain to continue its expansion regardless of the existing conditions.

Millimeter wave radar:
It will detect the difference in conductivity on the surface, in salt water it is a good support method although it will require a time of adjustment and sensitivity.

Mechanical methods:
Floating probes with electrochemical sensors: Launched in the right places, allow a direct analysis of the fluid, also tend to travel in the same direction since they are semi-sunken. Ideal for monitoring and determining the concentration of stains.

Additional advantages:
This same equipment is used for the industrial inspection of platforms or other industrial facilities, within the scope of conservation, maintenance and efficiency. Being able to detect correctable problems with preventive maintenance.

Also through personal positioning systems, vehicles and personnel can be positioned and monitored in their activity, helping prevention methodologies or detecting possible health problems and accidents.


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