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Slick Research — OR&R Continues to Partner to Enhance Methods for Detecting Floating Oil

APRIL 6, 2018 — During the week of March 26, researchers from OR&R and EPA's Office of Research and Development collaborated with WaterMapping, LLC, and University of South Florida researchers to support a Department of Interior Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement -funded research project focused on system and algorithm development for floating oil and emulsion characterization, using radiometry and a multi-spectral array.

Overhead view of four people, a tent, and equipment on a dock.
Outdoor Lab setup at the University of South Florida. OR&R Lead Scientist Lisa DiPinto explaining sampling work to Dr. Steve Murawski (University of South Florida) with Dr. Robyn Conmy (EPA) and Dr. Chuanmin Hu (University of South Florida). Image credit: NOAA.

The team set up large outdoor sea water tanks and prepared oil slicks and floating oil emulsions of various oil types, thicknesses, and degrees of weathering to test various oil detection sensors and to prepare for future work at Ohmsett (National Oil Spill Response Research and Renewable Energy Test Facility).  In addition to detection and characterization of floating oil, NOAA is working with the research team to advance our capabilities to conduct faster data intake, processing and data product development in response-operational time frames.  The goal is to have this data available for response and assessment decision making during an actual incident. 

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A hand pouring oil into a tank of water.
OR&R’s Dan Hahn adds emulsified oil into test tank attempting to create a 750-micron thick layer of oil. Image credit: NOAA.
Man on a ladder over a tank.
USF Doctoral candidate Shaojie Sun taking hand-held radiometry measurements of known thicknesses of floating oil in the test tank. Image credit: NOAA.
Instrument putting oil into water.
Adding specific volume of emulsified oil into test tank. Image credit: NOAA.