Using Drones to Clean Sea Pollution (UAV)

One of the key benefits of using drones and thermal imaging cameras is their ability to cover large areas in a short amount of time. Traditional methods of discovering oil spills can be slow and labor-intensive, but drones can cover vast areas in a single flight, allowing for a much quicker response time.

The discovery of hydrocarbons on water surfaces, such as oil spills, is a crucial task for the protection of the environment and marine life.

In the past, this has been a difficult and time-consuming task, often relying on manual methods and human observation.

However, with advancements in technology, a new solution has emerged – the use of drones equipped with thermal imaging cameras.

A pilot project has been launched to explore the potential of using drones and thermal imaging cameras to discover hydrocarbons on water surfaces at night.

The project aims to demonstrate the ability of these drones to quickly and accurately detect and map oil spills in real-time.

The thermal imaging cameras used in the project are capable of detecting the differences in temperature between the oil and water, making them a highly effective tool for discovering hydrocarbons.

By quickly and accurately detecting oil spills, this technology can help to minimize the impact of these spills on the environment and marine life.

Using Drones to Clean Sea Pollution- Collaboration with Dezinsekcija d.o.o. Rijeka and the Faculty of Civil Engineering in Rijeka

The University of Rijeka’s Faculty of Civil Engineering has a state-of-the-art hydrotechnical laboratory and experienced scientific and technical staff; the research itself was carried out at this laboratory.

The goal of the project and research we conducted was to design a more efficient, better, less expensive way to research sea surfaces than methods currently available, allowing us to clean up spills more quickly and efficiently and at lower cost.

Another goal was to prove that hydrocarbon pollution can be detected in low-visibility or zero-visibility conditions (especially at night).

Our practical experience and the results of this research led to the conclusion that using drones to survey water surfaces allows:

  • more efficient, better, and less expensive monitoring of the sea and coastline compared to monitoring by plane or large drone;
  • a wider perspective / better overview of the sea surface and the hydrocarbon spill itself from vessels participating in cleanup — by launching drones with special thermal imaging cameras to a height of 100-200m above the clean-up ship increases the visual field to 1-1.5 ha of surface, which allows better responses to spills and more exact placement of spill containment systems;
  • simple, fast detection of potential hydrocarbon leaks outside areas corralled with floating dams during the day — if a leak occurs, it can be immediately detected and additional spill containment systems can be deployed;
  • simple, fast detection of potential hydrocarbon leaks outside areas corralled with floating dams during the night;
  •  checking the efficiency and positioning of hydrocarbon clean-up systems (skimmers, pumps, etc.) — quality monitoring is exceptionally important to the efficiency of the devices themselves and the quantity of hydrocarbons collected during their operation;
  • the availability of images and data in real time — by connecting drones with a two-way cable to a laptop, tablet, smartphone, etc., thus increasing the quality and speed of decisions regarding the clean-up effort to the highest possible level.

Some examples of projects where we also used thermal imaging cameras can be found among our other projects.