Oil spill glows under UV light


14 Responses to “Oil spill glows under UV light”

  1. mmbb says:

    I’ve been occasionally trying, without luck, to do some UV photography, but turns out that every single UV LED light that I’ve purchased ($20 or under) fails miserably at being “true” UV. I’ve had moderate success with fluorescent UV tubes, but would prefer LEDs.
    Anybody have suggestions for an affordable legitimate UV LED lamp (and please include wavelength, if you have it)? Oh, and $1800 is out of my budget range… ;)

    • jimkirk says:

      Try http://www.s-et.com/products.htm
      The bad news is it looks like prices range from about $50 to $300 in 1 to 10 quantities as the wavelength ranges from 355 down to 240 nm, but those are genuine UV wavelengths there.

      My understanding is that it’s very difficult to get materials that can stand up to intense UV, in both the source semiconductors and the packaging.

      And a lot of plastics used in inexpensive “UV” LEDs fluoresce, which can ruin the desired use for some applications.

      When the price comes down I want to try arraying some around the fruit and vegetable bins in my refrigerator with a circuit to turn them on for a few minutes each time the door is closed to see if it can retard spoilage. I suppose I could get a cheap germicidal lamp to see if it works.

  2. DrClaw says:

    Rip Kirby? That’s gotta be the coolest name ever!

  3. fx says:

    Does anyone have the link to the student work that’s (vaguely) cited here? I’m wondering if this is the same Ping Wang I studied under.

  4. Anonymous says:

    This phenomenon is well known, and was used back in the day to evaluate whether a well had struck oil. The cuttings of rock removed from the well are examined under UV light for fluorescence. If it glows, the well hit an oil reservoir.

  5. coop says:

    UV light will be banned from the beaches by BP, along with the photographers.


  6. chriscombs says:

    Yeah, I think the new part is using UV lights in the field rather than in the lab…

    (Thanks MKB!)

  7. Antinous / Moderator says:

    Bad news for scorpion hunters.

  8. Anonymous says:

    Actually, UV light will show all sorts of natural fluorocarbons in sand purple. For example, some of the most pristine beaches in Hawaii, Northern California and the South Pacific show up overwhelming purple, so I’m not sure why this is surprising.

  9. hadlock says:

    Heck, the whole sea glows just by sailing through it! I discovered this in my first offshore sailboat race, peering off the sterm (back) of the boat – we had a 10′ glowing trail behind our boat! When the only visible lights around are the moon and your running lights, the glow effect is particularly bright. Some people talk about jumping out of the water and leaving behind glowing footprints in the dry sand. I’d imagine these critters glow under UV as well.

    More info:


  10. Anonymous says:

    The Vertek Division of Applied Research Associates has made some high output super efficient UV spotlights for detecting hydrocarbons (crude oil) on the beaches. They make tarballs and crude show up fluorescent yellowish/orange. Check them out at uvoil.com

    These lights are true UV and are built not to self destruct and also to survive the salt on the coast.

  11. rebdav says:

    Is this natural for crude oil to fluoresce or is it a result of injected slick-buster detergents?

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