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13 March 2014

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Scientists use Windmill Software to Locate Groundwater Oil Contamination

When underground water is contaminated by oil, environmental agencies need to find the source and extent of the pollution. Traditionally this has been difficult to establish, but researchers at the University of Waterloo (Canada) are working on an answer.

The scientists inject a solution of bromide and other tracer chemicals into the water. When these tracers hit the contamination, some are retarded more than others. Downstream, the team continuously pump up the groundwater and monitor the tracers. The differences in breakthrough times of each tracer lets them estimate the total mass and distribution of the subsurface oil pools.

Orion 290 Aplus measures bromide breakthrough

To accurately measure the breakthrough of bromide they use Windmill Software with an Orion 290 A+ meter equipped with a bromide selective electrode. Dr Niels Hartog, one of the scientists involved in the project, commented...

"With Windmill reading the serial output of the meter, I was easily able to continuously log bromide concentrations in the extraction wells."

Windmill stores the data in a text file which can later be imported into almost any Windows analysis software, such as Excel. The handheld Orion meter, for performing pH and concentration measurements, is just one of the many devices which can be handled by the Windmill data acquisition software.

The Windmill software is currently reduced from £145 to £50 and is available from our data acquisition shop.

Here are some typical settings for an Orion meter. They assume the meter is set to print the reading every 5 seconds and Windmill is reading in the background.

Settings:
Timeout                 5000
Instrument Idle or Wait Time    400
Data Persistence        5000
Returned Message Length 60
Channels:
Prompt String           \C027P
Reply Parse String      \S"+"\E"g"

(The Prompt string means "Escape P" and the Parse string to "Search for + then extract all data until g") For full details of the settings to use see our Orion page.

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