Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS


SCHEMA Report Summary

Project ID: 614002
Funded under: FP7-ENVIRONMENT
Country: Switzerland


Project Context and Objectives:
Marine environments are vulnerable ecosystems influenced by a diversity of anthropogenic constituents, natural substances, and organisms that may have adverse effects on their fragile equilibrium, their living resources, and ultimately, human health. Identification of relevant types of hazards at the appropriate temporal and spatial scale is thus crucial to detect their sources, to understand the processes governing their magnitude and distribution, and to ultimately evaluate and manage their risks and consequences preventing marine economic losses.

SCHeMA ( is a multi-disciplinary collaborative project aiming at providing an open and modular sensing solution for high resolution in situ mapping of a range of anthropogenic and natural chemical compounds. Key targets are chemicals that may adversely affect marine ecosystems, living resources and ultimately human health. The SCHeMA solution will enhance ocean observing system capabilities to i) track the sources of these compounds, their behavior and fate as a function of the master bio-geochemical conditions, and ii) evaluate their impact on marine water quality trends, thereby allowing one to rapidly localize problems and alert targeted groups.

Toward this aim, the SCHeMA’s specific objective is to provide rugged, easy-to-use, innovative submersible chemical sensor probes that can be readily interfaced and deployed from multiple platforms. This will be achieved via the development of:
• electrochemical probes based on: i) solid state ion-selective membrane sensors and on-line desalination module allowing detection of nutrients (nitrite, nitrate and phosphate); ii) solid-state sensors for simultaneous measurements of species relevant to the carbon cycle (H+, CO32- and Ca2+);
• a miniaturized multichannel voltammetric probe incorporating various types of gel integrated microsensor arrays (GIME) for simultaneous measurements of Hg(II), possibly CH3Hg(I), As(III), As(V), Cd(II), Pb(II), Cu(II), Zn(II);
• a miniaturized, fully integrated, versatile algae/biotoxin optochemical multichannel probe, based on low-cost optical equipment such as LEDs, optical filters and photodiodes;
• an integrated optochemical mid-infrared sensor for the selective detection of a range of dissolved volatile organic constituents (VOCs);
• a network controller unit, based on Linux operating system, allowing the interfacing of the SCHeMA submersible chemical probes as well as other commercially available probes (e.g. CTD and multiparameter probes). The Network control unit is equipped with a wireless WAN data transceiver (GPRS, UMTS) and a GPS module;
• a web-based system interface for accessing, interacting and configuring the SCHeMA network, controller and probes, according to the international OGC-SWE standards;
• a web interface for the management and access of data compatible with standard requirements such as EU Fisheries Data Collection Framework, the Marine Strategy Framework Directive, the INSPIRE directive, the GMES and GOOS/GEOSS initiatives.

The SCHeMA’s individual measuring units and integrated system will be optimized throughout their development via short field tests and inter-comparisons with data obtained using established laboratory techniques. Long-term field applications in estuary and coastal systems are also performed to: (i) evaluate their ruggedness and reliability for high resolution spatial and temporal monitoring, (ii) define their suitability for different applications and commercial production, and iii) demonstrate monitoring capability and features to end-users and policy decision makers.

The field application of the SCHeMA system at relevant selected coastal observation sites (protected marine areas, seafood production areas) will produce a new type of high-resolution environmental data in these areas by covering a broad range of major contaminant types (nutrients, metals, organic contaminants, biotoxins, specific algae).

Project Results:
During the first 36 months of the project, SCHeMA has successfully developed:

• Compact, novel submersible electrochemical mapping probes based on miniature multi-channel flow-through cells incorporating: all-solid-state ion selective mini-electrodes for potentiometric detection of pH, carbonate and calcium with CO2 obtained from the combination carbonate/pH probes; antifouling membrane covered on-chip microelectrode arrays for highly sensitive voltammetric detection of the bioavailable fraction of mercury, arsenite, cadmium, lead, copper and zinc.

• A multi-wave length miniaturized flow-cytometer enabling in-situ optical detection of single cell events, classification of several algae classes and identification of toxin producing cyanobacteria.

• Dedicated hardware, firmware and software components allowing their plug-and-play integration via a network controller (NC). The NC acts as gateway for bidirectional communication, via advanced OGC-SWE wired/wireless dedicated interfaces, between the individual chemical mapping probes and a land station.

• A web user interface enabling bi-directional interaction between the users and the mapping probes; data transmission, treatment and validation; data file reconfiguration and storage into a web accessible databank.

• A web data information system implementing the Sensor Observing System (SOS) standards in order to provide easy access and full interoperability with other systems and sensors. The interoperability features with international observation systems provided by the SOS Core profile methods developed were validated in cooperation with EMODnet Physics portal.

Field evaluation of the individual probes and a SCHeMA integrated mapping system have been performed as part of three short-field tests performed during years 2015 and 2016.

Optimization of other devices, namely:
• all-solid-state ion selective mini-electrodes coupled to on-line desalination and acidification modules
• polymer functionalized antifouling gel integrated on-chip microelectrode arrays
• 3- electrode system on-chip
• a portable optochemical mid-infrared sensor probe
are underway to (i) extend the capability of the SCHeMA integrated system to the detection of nitrate, nitrite, arsenate and possibly VOCs; (ii) and allow further miniaturization.

Field applications in Atlantic and Mediterranean coastal areas coupled to demonstrations to potential end-users are programmed during the year 2017.

Dissemination activities have been performed via: 6 press releases; 25 published peer reviewed papers; 29 oral presentations and 38 posters presented at 40 different regional, national and international conferences/meetings; participation to 3 business exhibitions; organization of two conference sessions on the development of innovative sensors for in situ monitoring of aquatic systems as part of the international conferences ASLO 2015 (Aquatic Science Meeting) and IEBS 2015 (International Estuarine and Biogeochemistry Symposium); organization of a Workshop and Round-Table on “What can the Ocean of Tomorrow projects do for you?” as part of OI 2016 (Oceanology International Conference and Exhibition); a Summer School that took place at the Plentzia Marine Station -Spain, 14-16 June 2016; the publicly accessible SCHeMA web site providing access to informational factsheets on the project, the individual sensing probes ready for field deployment and the Web based data interface and portal; copies of public Deliverables and peer-reviewed published scientific papers (special Clause 39) when they will be available; videos (that are also available on YouTube:;;

Potential Impact:
SCHeMA will provide novel innovative and versatile tools to enhance ocean observing system capabilities in term of:

• number of hazardous chemical compounds that can be quantified simultaneously;
• temporal resolution and spatial dimension to rapidly localize problems, to alert targeted groups and to take remedial action at appropriate time scale;
• promote new discoveries leading to a better understanding of the synergic interaction between the target analytes and their impact on water quality monitoring programs of estuarine and coastal zones (Water Framework Directive - WFD-2000/60/EC, Marine Strategy Framework Directive - MSFD 2008, the Marine Thematic Strategy, the Marine Policy Green Paper);
• propose EQS standards based on scientific knowledge;
• define strategies to set up efficient water quality monitoring programs of estuaries and coastal zones;
• support implementation of European Maritime Policies and development of knowledge-based protective policies for sustainable management.

Moreover SCHeMA will promote new skills, jobs and collaborations as well as new business opportunities in the world market of marine sensors and autonomous monitoring platforms.

List of Websites:


Mary-Lou Tercier-Waeber, (Senior researcher scientist)
Tel.: +41 223796048
Fax: +41 223793670
Record Number: 196987 / Last updated on: 2017-04-13