Underground hydrocarbon spills (approximately 10m) are common, generated in hundreds each year worldwide. They are mainly due to the wear and tear of pipelines in the oil industry, insufficient maintenance of refineries or the wear and tear of storage tanks and pipes of those industries that use refined hydrocarbons to operate. From the Mars exploration application the proposal is innovative and tackles a very important, recent and interesting issue regarding human exploration of other planets and should be considered because is a simple way to solve a relevant matter for the goal of human exploration of rocky planets and the possible organic compounds on them.
The oil spills generate an environmental problem and an economic waste for the oil spilled. The cleanup of the spill recovers the environment and the sale of the extracted hydrocarbon partially or totally covers the cost of the process and can even generate additional income.
From a scientific point of view searching for organic compounds is vital for better understanding this other planets, Mars being the best candidate for exploration in our lifetime.
The GPR-CSP approach allows - from the analysis of reflection and refraction of electromagnetic waves - to identify and map underground spills of hydrocarbons without environmental impact, with a relative low cost and high precision. With few corroboration drills, the model is adjusted and the net volume of extractable liquid is estimated, by means of pumping.
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It is worth mentioning that, while drilling is costly, generates timely information and high environmental impact, this method is low cost, offers extensive information, generating maps with relevant information of high precision and in a short period. There are known different geophysical techniques to deal with superficial spills, but the innovation of this method is its application to underground spills.
Also organic compound search in Mars or other planets, is of much importance since geo-engineering and human habitability prospects (even for short periods of time) in this other planets could be positively impacted if energy sources are found within astronauts reach (Methane), seismic activities from volcanos could be estimated from organic gases findings, and finally it could be an important step to resolve the long standing issue of the possible past pro-life environment that Mars could have had at some point in its geologic history.
Both hydrocarbons and organic matter are sensible to this method. Therefore in the oil spill application, it works in areas such as refineries, where no vegetation (that produces organic matter) is present.
All those productive sectors susceptible to oil spills, allowing identifying them at low cost and then proceeding with their cleaning, namely:
• Oil companies, large and small (upstream, downstream and midstream)
• Retail fuel sector
• Corporations outside the oil industry whose infrastructure uses large quantities of fuel
• Regulatory institutions and environmental monitoring organizations.
• Aerospace industry for Mars exploration