THE world’s first hand-held soil contamination detection tool has begun immediate production to meet international demand for the new invention.
The South Australia-based company Ziltek and research partner Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) developed the Remscan to measure Total Petroleum Hydrocarbons (TPH) in soil.
The pistol-like detector uses infrared spectroscopy for rapid non-destructive prediction of contaminants in soils and soil properties using both near- and mid-infrared spectral regions, according to the CSIRO’s Professor Mike McLaughlin.
“We also identified the potential of this new method for petroleum hydrocarbons to greatly reduce costs to industry and we saw Ziltek as the logical partner for global commercialisation."
The Remscan, which looks like a police radar gun, uses an infrared signal to measure petroleum hydrocarbons from a small amount of dry soil from the testing area and provides a result within 20 seconds.
Ziltek managing director Dr Richard Stewart said the new tool had recently been independently validated using soil from United States Department of Defense sites in California.
The tool was put on display a fortnight ago at the Ninth International Conference on Remediation of Chlorinated and Recalcitrant Compounds held in Monterey, California.
“This international conference was an ideal opportunity to launch RemScan in the US market after our success in Australia, this is regarded as the cornerstone event for the global remediation industry,” Dr Stewart said.
The conference attracted scientists, engineers, regulators, and other environmental professionals from universities, government, regulatory agencies, R&D and manufacturing firms from more than 30 countries.
“We had a very productive time in the US in the past month and from that feedback alone we have immediate demand for several units,’’ Dr Stewart said.
The appeal of the instrument is that it gives immediate results and is cost effective.
“Normal testing methods can take up to two weeks with each test costing up to $100,” said Dr Stewart. “So it is not just financial benefits clients are finding attractive but also the ability for quick turn around times to reach results which allows accelerated project closure.’’
The immediate results are also vitally important in remote areas where lab analysis is not available or is prohibitively expensive.
“The technology has the potential to save the environmental remediation industry millions of dollars per year in laboratory and project costs globally,” he said.
Petroleum contamination as a result of leaking tanks or industrial spills is a widespread global issue with potentially serious impacts for human and environmental health.
The CSIRO and Ziltek developed the intellectual property and software behind the product in South Australia.
They plan to sell the device to oil companies, environmental engineers and land remediation specialists.
“We don’t have a set price for the RemScan at the moment because it can be modified in a number of ways so individual units would have different prices,’’ he said.
Ziltek raised expansion capital in 2011 and has quickly grown from two staff to nine this year and is expected to continue its rapid growth on the back on the RemScan popularity.