22 March 2017
Acoem Australasia works closely with clients to solve complex problems. In 2016 it worked with a customer in Western Australia (WA) to develop a Portable Groundwater Profiling system “fit for purpose” in the mining industry. On this occasion, “fit for purpose” took shape in the form of a utility vehicle. The Portable Groundwater Profiling System (PGPS) Vehicle is custom designed by Acoem Australasia and represents a better way to test groundwater in extreme environments. The PGPS also opens new monitoring possibilities beyond basic water profiling.
Tracking groundwater quality is important in environmental monitoring, but there are barriers to obtaining accurate readings. High quality, accurate instrumentation which can operate on hard environments is often not portable which creates challenges when ground water bores are in difficult and remote locations.
Limitations of Current Water Profiling Technology
The WA target site was near the coast, creating an environment where the groundwater has multiple layers: fresh water, sea water and potential contamination. The customer needed to measure groundwater quality at regular depth intervals. Doing so meant they could locate areas of contaminations and mixing.
Standard ground water sampling methods mix up the water column, making it impossible to measure in intervals. However, more accurate systems are not robust enough for reliable operation in harsh environments. These more accurate systems are by necessity less portable and also require generators, which can’t be used in refineries for safety reasons and they’re often fixed to a vehicle, making them immovable in cramped conditions.
Fit for Purpose: Portable Groundwater Profiling Vehicle (PGPV)
According to Acoem Australasia WA Branch Operations Manager Paul How, the custom designed vehicle mounted PGPS “acts as a robust one-stop-shop for NATA (National Association of Testing Authorities) accredited data gathering in situ onsite”. The winching system (pictured below) is fitted with a sonde instrument probe to reach depths of 100 m and measures water quality at 1 cm intervals. It can also be adapted to descend up to 500 m and be fitted with a variety of other monitoring and sampling technologies.
A wastewater storage tank, along with calibration and decontamination equipment, minimises cross-contamination and leaching. The advanced profiling equipment in the PGPS is solar powered, electric, and mounted on turntables. Turntables help make it safe and movable enough for use in cramped refinery conditions.