Gloved hands hold a laboratory glass containing a liquid and a test strip.

Measure of the contamination level using the developed test strips.

Source: BAM

Oil contamination of water and soil can be analyzed either by elaborate laboratory analyses or - with limited significance - by rapid paper tests. BAM developed a simple quick test for oil pollution, compatible with mobile devices such as smartphones or tablets. In the future, this will make it possible to test water quality quickly and easily for oil contamination without the need for time-consuming sample transport, storage, and laboratory analyses. Contamination of natural bodies of water or soil with oils and lubricants, i.e., hydrocarbon derivatives such as petrol and fuels, is a widespread occurrence related to the ubiquitous production, distribution, and use of fossil fuels. In this paper, we designed a simple technique for detecting total petroleum hydrocarbons (TPHs) in water and soil. The fluorescence signal generated by a specially developed dye, a molecular rotor, depends on oil contamination levels and can be measured. This dye is incorporated in a hydrophobic polymeric matrix, preventing water interactions, and providing a robust support for use in test strips. In addition to the strips, an embedded optical system for fluorescence signal read-out was developed, which included a Bluetooth low-energy link to a commercial tablet device for data processing and analysis. This technique detects and quantifies TPHs in water and soil utilizing a simple extraction process with a cycloalkane solvent and a detection limit of 6 ppm. Assays in surface and marine waters were successful, demonstrating the method's viability for in-field use.

Fluorescent Hydrophobic Test Strips with Sterically Integrated Molecular Rotors for the Detection of Hydrocarbons in Water and Soil with an Embedded Optical Read-Out
Maria Mansurova, Raúl Gotor, Sergej Johann, Patrick P. Neumann, Matthias Bartholmai, Knut Rurack, Jérémy Bell
Published in Energy and Fuels, Volume 37, Issue 14, Pages 10544-1054.
BAM Analytical Chemistry, Reference Materials
BAM Non-Destructive Testing
BAM Chemical and Optical Sensing
BAM Sensors, Measurement and Testing Methods