The health of the sea is an indication of how we humans treat planet Earth. At NGI, we want to contribute to cleaner seas. We are participating in a number of research programmes and international initiatives that aim to prevent pollution and give us cleaner seas.
Smart emissions monitoring
The risk of emissions and leakage from offshore oil and gas production is one of the major challenges. With conventional technology, leakages are not discovered early enough and it is not possible to follow the environmental effects of emissions on a continuous basis.
Kjeller Innovasjon and NGI are collaborating on new technology to address these challenges. A new method enables the online measurement and monitoring of hydrocarbons (PAH components) in water. This solution can help prevent disasters with major economic and environmental impacts.
"Pollution rapidly dilutes in the sea, meaning that what we can measure soon ‘disappears’. In order to monitor hydrocarbon emissions over time, high-precision, low-concentration technology is required. Our new PAH sensor simply facilitates the online measurement and monitoring of hydrocarbons in water," says Espen Eek, project manager and technical lead within Environmental Technology at NGI.
Online monitoring and measurements make it possible for governments and oil companies to ensure the continuous identification of the risk of oil spills, based on real time data. This will also enable the early warning and localisation of any oil leaks.
"Together with Kjeller Innovasjon and the oil and gas operator Eni Norge, we are collaborating on the testing of the methodology and the new equipment. Eni Norge operates Goliath, the first productive oil field in the Barents Sea, and wants to be completely up-to-date with technological developments in environmental monitoring," says Espen Eek.
Microplastic as a macro problem
There has been a lot in the news about large quantities of plastic ending up in the sea, and microplastics becoming a part of the diet of fish, shellfish and birds. Public action has drawn a lot of attention to the environmental dangers of microplastics, with large-scale initiatives and restrictions on the use of plastic as a result.
Microplastics are made up of particles so small that they cannot be seen by the naked eye. Sunshine, bacteria, waves, and other conditions affect and change plastic fragments over time. Together, these weathering processes make the microplastic particles even smaller and they partially transform into chemical fragments.
A group of European scientists is working on a large international project intended to produce new knowledge about the mechanisms behind the microplastics invasion of the sea.
"Weathering leads to changes in the way that microplastics break up on the surface, in the depths and on the seabed. In this way, they also enter the food chain. Microplastics can get stuck in gills, the stomach and the digestive system, making it difficult for fish to breathe and eat," says Hans Peter Arp, senior specialist in environmental technology at NGI.
Together with colleagues from Norway, Sweden, Germany and Belgium, Hans Peter Arp is conducting a series of experiments and laboratory tests to understand how microplastics are spreading and affecting the seas of the world. The WEATHER-MIC research project is being coordinated by Hans Peter Arp and NGI. It is part of the international Joint Programming Initiative Healthy and Productive Seas and Oceans (JPI Oceans).
- The JPI Oceans research project (The Joint Programming Initiative Healthy and Productive Seas and Oceans) was started in 2011 as a platform for strategic coordination and integration. JPI Oceans has 21 participating countries and covers all the European sea areas. This research collaboration offers a unified, integrated and long-term approach to marine and maritime research and technology development.
- WEATHER-MIC is one of four research projects approved after the announcement of JPI Oceans’ research on the ecological impact of microplastics in 2014. The project is looking at the long-term effects of microplastics in the seas, as well as how microplastics affect ecosystems and environmental risks.
- The PAH sensor originates from IMiRO, a strategic research project initiated and run by NGI, with financial support from the Research Council of Norway FORNY2020 scheme.
- NGI has extensive experience in the development of these monitoring systems and has previously produced a system monitoring gas leaks on the seabed, as well as passive sampling methods that can monitor concentrations of organic contaminants in sediment and water.