Water Quality Monitoring
Water is probably the most important natural resource in the World, since it is fundamental for the existence of life and industry operation. “It is, without question, man’s most precious resource”. There is no substitute for water in many of its uses. Water also plays a very important role in all ecological systems, since it is vital in the photosynthetic production of matter and oxygen by plants. Its role is also fundamental in the mobilisation and transport of nutrients. It is therefore very important to avoid any action, which adversely affects the adequate use of water. At Tyndall we have several projects dedicated to the study of water quality.
DEPLOY is a project funded by the EPA and the Marine Institute, project partners include NCSR-DCU, SWRBD (south western river basin district), and our Industrial Partner is Intelligent Data Systems (previously known as Marine Informatics). DEPLOY is a technology demonstration project which aims to investigate how state of the art technology can be implemented for cost effective, continuous, real-time monitoring of a river catchment. The deployment demonstrates sensor network capability in collecting real-time water quality data using state of the art water quality monitoring systems and deployment infrastructure (wireless data transfer mechanisms, novel sensors, sensor interfacing etc.) required to meet the demands of the European Water Framework Directive legislation.
The project is aimed at developing a new measurement platform based on contactless oxygen sensing that is capable of delivering to the end-user high quality optical and analytical data regarding oxygen concentration, consumption rate and biological activity/responses of samples being tested. This integrated measurement platform represents a multichannel, phase-fluorometric system realized as a handheld device with central microcontroller station interrogating with an optoelectronic module containing an array of individual measurement cells and controlled by dedicated software and laptop PC. The system is optimized for specific sensor and sample type and targeted to several high-utility applications drug discovery (assessment of mitochondrial and cellular function, compound screening), food safety (rapid microbial and sterility testing), environmental monitoring (assessment of water quality; biological toxicity testing of wastewater and industrial chemicals).
In the Life Sciences Interface group, an electrochemical immunosensor platform is being developed to qualitatively and quantitatively detect polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) in water. PAHs consist of a large group of chemical compounds, which comprise two or more aromatic rings. They are an important group of organic micro pollutants (xenobiotics) due to their widespread distribution. They are present in the atmosphere, water, soil, and plants and can also be found in animals and their products. They pose an important environmental and health threat as members of this family of organic compounds are carcinogenic and mutagenic. There is the potential to incorporate the development of individual PAH sensors and to investigate the development of possible combination sensors. The latter would facilitate analysis of a broader range of PAHs and would therefore provide a novel and more complete screening protocol. Development of a rapid detection system is essential for screening large quantities of environmental samples with respect to achieving a "YES/NO" answer. Sensors, which can detect the presence of PAHs at a screening level, would provide an easy and cost effective tool for analysis. The ability to detect more then one PAH and to express a total PAH concentration would be a novel development in environmental analysis.
Dr. Eric Moore
Environmental Programme Coordinator, Life Science Interface Group, Tyndall National Institute
Tel: +353 21 4904451