|Robots collect samples at contaminated sites.||Bookmark|
Publication :CE Date :November, 1999 file=CE-106-12 Copyright :Copyright 1999 Chemical Week Publishing, LLC Volume :106 Issue :12 Page :21 Section :CHEMENTATOR
Robot rolls through an underground `tunnel' to collect samples at contaminated sites.
Karlsruhe Research Center (FzK; Karlsruhe, Germany; 742) has developed a remotely controlled robot system for obtaining underground samples at contaminated sites. Rather than working through a vertically drilled hole, the robot runs on wheels along a horizontal pipe that is first installed underground. This makes it possible to sample sites under buildings, says project leader Horst Haffner. He adds that, unlike vertical drilling, it avoids the risk of releasing contaminants into groundwater.
The system, dubbed Arobis, consists of about 20 different modules. Some have probes for taking water, air and soil samples, which can then be brought to the surface for analysis. Other modules carry sensors for online monitoring of pH, temperature, conductivity and other parameters. A camera module allows visual inspections. A mobile laboratory, containing a mass spectrometer, photoemission spectrometer and other instruments, allows the probes to be analyzed in the field in about 1-2 h. Conventional sampling methods that rely on laboratory analysis can take 7-10 days, says Haffner.
The DM 6-million project (U.S.$3.3 million) was sponsored by the State Environmental Office of Baden-Wurttemberg (Karlsruhe). FzK is now working to develop modules to perform chemical analyses online. In the meantime, the drilling company FlowTex Technologie GmbH (Ettlingen, Germany), will use the prototype for routine inspections, beginning next year.
Edited by Gerald Parkinson
The DEA has hundreds of them, all over the world.