Remote Chemical Sensing
Environmental monitoring is becoming increasingly important as the number of compounds in use continues to increase. For example, within the last ten years, some of the 85,000 chemicals in use in the United States have been found to coincidentally have hormonal effects, where the most common effect is to mimic estrogen (e.g. alkylphenols). Although the European Community has achieved major strides in environmental performance during the last two decades, threats of environmental damage and depletion still exist. It is estimated that more than 150,000 contaminated sites exist in the EU. Furthermore, increased intensity of water use, discharge of untreated domestic and industrial wastes, excessive application of fertilizers, pesticides and insecticides in agriculture, and accidental spills of harmful substances have led to increased pollution of water-bodies throughout Europe. The importance of monitoring activities at polluted sites has gained attention from national authorities due to increased evidence of contamination from past improper waste management, industrial, and agricultural practices.
The overall objective of the SHOAL project is to design and develop 3 fully functional robotic fish equipped with chemical sensors and a scalable communications infrastructure. The purpose of SHOAL is to gather information on pollutants and hazardous substances in a port environment. This is a public service domain with requirements for monitoring coming through EC Directive 2005/35 “on ship-source pollution and on the introduction of penalties and infringements”, which requires regular reports on pollution in this space. The robots themselves will act as an adaptive sensor network, providing real-time data on pollution and changing the sampling points in line with the information gathered in-situ.
Dr Vladimir Ogurtsov