Partrac Particle Tracing Technology Put to Test

Partrac Ltd has recently completed a survey to demonstrate its world-leading particle tracing technology for aiding the management of contaminated sediments. This was for the SPAWAR (Space and Naval Warfare) Systems Centre Pacific in San Diego.

The study was undertaken under a grant funded by the US Department of Defense (DoD) ESTCP programme.

This is the DoD’s environmental technology demonstration and validation program, which aims to promote the transfer of innovative technologies that have successfully established proof of concept to field or production use.

This was the first of two surveys for the client. Partrac scientists co-designed the study with Dr Jim Leather and his colleagues of the Environmental Assessment and Sustainability branch of SPAWAR.

Dr Leather said: “This is a great opportunity to trial the Partrac particle tracing technology for monitoring the movement of contaminated sediment, which could be invaluable for future environmental impact assessments.

Dr Kevin Black, Technical Director for Partrac said: “800 kg of silt tracer slurry (< 63 microns) was introduced into the ocean mimicking the discharge from an outfall during a flash flood. Many different sampling activities, which included in situ magnet moorings, conventional water sampling, in situ fluorimetry and seabed grab sampling, were undertaken in a systematic manner to track the plume, and delineate its’ depositional footprint, over four tidal cycles. We are now processing the data from the survey and results should be available in the near future.

Partrac, a UK based contractor, has developed the particle tracing field tool and methodology over the past 10 years. This allows sediments and other particles to be tracked through time and across space in aquatic and terrestrial systems.

It is a simple to use but highly practical tool. Partrac was commissioned to undertake the demonstration project to illustrate how the tool can be applied on a practical level to underpin the management of contaminated sediments in military waters.

The Partrac particle tracing field tool uses proprietary dual signature (DS) tracer technology where the tracers for the study are natural sediment (silt) particles modified to be both fluorescent in character and para-magnetic. These two signatures allow for unequivocal identification of the particles following release, thereby providing a means of tracking their movement. The magnetic character also allows the use of powerful permanent magnets, both in situ and in the laboratory, for tracer recovery.

A second survey is planned for the spring of 2015.

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