Skip to main content

Multi-sensor automated water quality monitoring and control system for continuous use in recirculation aquaculture systems

Final Report Summary - AQUALITY (Multi-sensor automated water quality monitoring and control system for continuous use in recirculation aquaculture systems)

Executive Summary:

AQUAlity is an EU FP7 (EU seventh framework programme) funded research project for the benefit of SME-Associations. It aims to improve the profitability of Recirculation Aquaculture Systems (RAS) through improved monitoring and management of water quality and biofilters.
The AQUAlity system is a monitoring and advice system comprising four main elements:
• A local monitoring system measuring key parameters of water quality in the RAS
• A local database to collate and review data on RAS performance at the farm
• A central expert database to collate data from all the farms using the AQUAlity system
• A web application to enable the expert to access the data and provide recommendations and advice to the farmer on how to improve RAS performance.
One of the key novel developments in the AQUAlity system is a miniaturized automated colorimetric analyzer (MACA) for the measurement of ammonia and nitrite levels in RAS water as shown in figure 1. The measurement of ammonia and nitrite levels will be done colorimetrically. The reagents cause coloration of the water sample, which is stronger if the concentration of the analytes (e.g. ammonia) is higher. The detector measures how strong the colour is and the controller calculates the analyte concentration from that. An automated analyzer is a device that periodically takes a water sample, adds and mixes small quantities of reagents into it and subsequently feeds the prepared sample to a detector where the ammonia or nitrite concentration is measured. The device has a microcontroller that steers all its functions, such as when to switch the pump on or off, when to open up or close valves, when to take a measurement etc. The reagents are gradually consumed over a period of time and need to be replenished periodically. The analyzer concept is much used in a laboratory environment and also for field use there are systems available based on this concept. However, these systems are generally bulky and not very versatile. Using modern micro fluidics technology, the AQUAlity MACA will be roughly the size of a shoe box and consume only a fraction of the reagent volume of existing analyzers.
As listed above, the AQUAlity software has four components. The first is a local monitoring system, which enables the farmer to monitor key water quality parameters and RAS performance at the farm in real time. The data is stored in a local data base in order that the farmer can review historical data from the farm to assess past performance. The AQUAlity webservices enables each farmer to upload their data to a central ‘expert data base’. The Experts analysis is a web based application which enables the expert to access the data from the expert database for analysis and provide recommendations and advice to the farmer on how to improve RAS performance. The farmer can also use the farm control software to compare their RAS performance with other similar farms.
AQUAlity can play an important role in the development of a more profitable RAS. The technology of the RAS are not standardised and key components effectively custom built for each development and in addition there is a higher skill level requirement to maintain the farm’s good husbandry. Expansion of this sector will depend on continued improvements to design and optimisation of both build and operating costs. A key issue is to improve the management and surveillance of the biofilter in RAS. The AQUAlity addresses this through the provision of a standardised open platform technology; this will lower the cost for fish farmers by developing a multi-sensor unit to measure water quality parameters. This coupled to an intelligent monitoring and advice system that contains built-in knowledge of the farmed species will reduce the skill levels required of the fish farmer operatives.
Please visit www.aqualityproject.com for further information on the AQUAlity project.
The project succeeded to achieve all its purposes and it is planned to utilise the results for the future by one of the SME partners in cooperation with SME-AGs and the RTDs in a possible AQUAlity2 project.
The €2.7 million project was funded under the EU FP7 (EU seventh framework programme) and had a duration of three years.

Project Context and Objectives:
Summary description of project context and objectives

The projects consist of 9 work packages, 38 tasks and 21 deliverables. This summary describes the results from each work package, objectives and deliverables.
Figure 2 shows an overview of the nine work packages:

WP1 has the objective to develop the multi sensor unit.
A large survey (market scan) showed the existing commercial sensors used for aquaculture today. Target specification listed the target sensor unit parameters and the accuracy. Recommended acquisition of commercial sensors to test in WP2 were made as well. The conclusion was that within DO, CO2, pH and Temperature there are existing commercial transducer probes available that could be tested in WP2. Within ammonium and nitrite there were no commercial sensors that fully covered the targeted AQUAlity specifications. Some commercial sensors were suggested for further tests. Studies on ammonia and nitrite sensors showed the available measurement techniques available on the market today. Concepts for improved sensor solution were suggested and the consortium took a decision to aim at the concept number 6 (Automated colorimetric CFA) of the 7 concepts suggested by Philips. The consortium decision took into account the potential risk, the benefits and available funds to succeed within the time available.
In WP2 the commercial available sensors were evaluated and based on that the consortium decided that the multisensor could utilise existing sensors for DO, CO2, pH and Temperature and use the existing OxyGuard Pacific unit to aggregate and store the measurements. The consortium asked Philips concentrate their research and development effort on the nitrite and ammonia measurements and ISRI should make slave unit that could connect the new measurements to the Pacific unit. Philips developed what where called a MACA unit (Miniaturized Automated Colorimetric Analyzer). The MACA is a demonstrator that has been proved to function. The consortium learned a lot about how difficult it is to develop a new product and how many steps there are from a product idea over demonstrator to the prototype and “0 series” when developing electronic products professionally. The realistic achievable MACA demonstrator with a slave unit to connect it with the Pacific unit replaced the first idea about reaching to the point of a real “prototype”. The MACA unit was developed including the software and a user manual and finally transferred for further tests at Nofima.
In WP3 the AQUAlity software was developed. It started with a top level description of the AQUAlity software developed after a thorough consultation of the whole consortium.

The AQUAlity system has four main elements:
• A local monitoring system measuring key parameters of water quality in the RAS
• A local database to collate and review data on RAS performance at the farm
• A central expert database to collate data from all the farms using the AQUAlity system
• A web application to enable the expert to access the data and provide recommendations and advice to the farmer on how to improve RAS performance.
All software developed are prototype software that have been able to show the function of the system in field trials and have been able to be utilised for training and demonstration purposes.
In WP4 the MACA unit was transferred to Nofima for test in a controlled test environment with fish and realistic water qualities (lab conditions). A lot of problems were identified and solved during the tests and Philips worked in parallel to come up with solutions. At last the MACA unit achieved a functioning level and the performance was documented by Nofima. The Pacific unit from OxyGuard, was also installed at Nofima with the full package of sensors, the slave unit and the AQUAlity software package and tested in practice.
In WP5 two AQUAlity systems (Pacific units with sensors and AQUAlity software) were transferred and tested at the two fish farms in Spain and Germany. The tests in practice have proved the concept of the AQUAlity system. The MACA demonstrator unit was not suitable for transfer for tests at the fish farms. The MACA It is still in a state where it must be in a controlled lab environment to be able to function correctly – however, the principle of the concept have been proved successful in the project.
The performance of the installed AQUAlity systems at the two fish farms in WP5 has been documented to be functional under real working conditions in WP6.
Dissemination of the projects results have been done primarily by the SME AGs in WP 7. Activities have taken place at both local and international level. It has only been possible to publish the overall result for the public as the commercially sensitive information is kept within the consortium. The plan for exploitation of the results of the AQUAlity project has also been made in WP7. The SME OxyGuard took over the responsibility as the exploitation manager in the project before the mid term evaluation and they have been very active to make a plan to bring the results further to the market. The SME AGs interest is that equipment and software are developed at an affordable price to the benefit of their members and we think we have found a good solution that will ensure the SME-AGs members get the maximal benefit out of the project by securing members a 50% discount of any future AQUAlity software from OxyGuard.
Transfer of knowledge has been taking place in WP8 on several levels. The SME AGs were first trained by the RTDs and then training material was developed for the SME AG´s members. This material has been used on several occasions; meeting/conferences and the knowledge about the project have been widely spread over Europe. The detailed results have been kept secret within the consortium to enable the utilisation and benefit of them by the SME-AGs after the project has ended.
The final plan for dissemination and use describes the development state of the MACA unit and a description of a realistic plan of a marketable MACA unit. The MACA is still a long way away from a commercial product and we cannot be certain that it will end as a real product. One of the options is to apply for an AQUAlity2 (another type of project) in cooperation to be able make final MACA product. The consortium will think and plan for the future to realise this option and some of the plans are described in the end of this report.
The AQUAlity software is closer to a real product and there are less uncertainties how to make it function as a product. There is however also a huge demand for further software development and a finished software package needs to be maintained and updated. None of the SME AGs has this software development capacity in-house and the suggestion from OxyGuard to host an organisation where the SME AGs also are represented and integrate the current software with other important production parameters is something that could be included in an AQUAlity2 project or in a separate future project.
The consortium has been managed in WP9 and beside telephone meetings and E-mail correspondences regular consortium meeting have been held to be able to manage project. The RTDs have had meetings more often (every month or more) to be able to coordinate their research and development effort. The major management problems have been delays for approving signing the consortium agreement among the partners and a very time consuming amendment to the agreement after the min term evaluation. The Danish fish farm EJST unfortunately went bankrupt during the project. A new German fish farm FISCH came into the project and took over EJST responsibilities in the project with success. The Turkish SME association ISUB wanted to leave the project and was exchanged by another Turkish SME association MILSUBIR for the second project reporting period. The project has delivered the expected results within the planned three-year project period.

Project Results:
Description of main scientific and technology results

Introduction
AQUAlity is a three year EC FP7 funded project, aimed at development of a system to control and monitor water quality in Recirculation Aquaculture Systems (RAS) and at dissemination of best practices in water quality management within the Aquaculture society in EC countries. Best practice is constantly evolving and will be determined through analysis of anonymous data collected through input from fish farmers involved in the project throughout the EC and contributing aquaculture associations.
At the core of the project is the development of a monitoring system, specifically designed for use in RAS, containing a modular sensor unit with multiple transducers developed to suit the parameter range and tolerance required to maintain the water quality that is necessary for successful fish farming. At the fish farm, the sensor unit will interface with an industry standard control and monitor system.
Another core of the project is the development of software for disseminating recommendations for the water quality requirements and control parameters for different fish species farmed in a recirculation aquaculture system. It is generally accepted that there is not a uniformly consistant body of knowledge regarding water quality requirements for Aquaculture systems, and in particular for recirculation systems where more accurate monitoring and control is required to prevent rapid deterioration of water quality. Under certain conditions, this can have a negative effect on fish welfare and can even result in complete loss of the fish stock.
The AQUAlity project was targeted to satisfy the needs of the member associations by giving benefit to a broad range of users who have members with a very diverse range of technology adoption and withaccessibility to as many members as possible irrespective of levels of investment. As a result the AQUAlity project will be required to return results that can be provided to association members without direct investment in AQUALITY specific hardware and that will be available to users using manual monitoring methods through to those with fully automated, high tech control plant and machinery.
The main results of the project are the “AQUAlity system”. The AQUAlity system consist of the following parts:
1) An ammonia and nitrite measurement demonstrator device (MACA)
2) A multisensor system (collects the parameters in one system at a fish farm)
3) A farm control system with a database
4) A web based knowledge advice system

The whole AQUAlity system was described in D4.1 and it is illustrated in figure 3.

The ‘Sensors’ indicates the sensor head of the monitoring system. The Sensor head contains the sensing elements of the AQUAlity system. The sensor head provides raw electronic signals, or digitally encoded signals. The monitoring system accepts the inputs from the sensor head and converts the signals into a digital data signal conforming to the sensor interface specification. The sensor interface is a digital interface that describes in detail, the field bus type communications interface used to bridge between the sensor head and the automated control system. The monitoring system only provides the data to the control system and has no ability to perform control actions based on the signals received.
The Automated Control system processes the data received from the sensor head via the monitoring system. It uses the sensor data and a set of water quality parameters in order to control outputs that affect and control the Recirculating Aquaculture System (RAS) water quality. The predetermined water quality parameters are sourced from the AQUAlity project database –within the project studies were be based on Salmonid species (Atlantic salmon and Rainbow trout) and catfish, however the database was constructed to accept data on additional fish species – the target water quality parameters for the database will be provided by the experts within the AQUAlity project (Nofima). Data gathered by the system on water quality and aspects such as yield and mortality rate (manually entered by the user) will be made available to the experts for further analysis and improvement of the advice and target water quality parameters. Data gathered by the AQUAlity system is anonymous and used for research and recommendation purposes only.


Initial work
Consultation and surveys within the project group concluded a list of the parameters for a sensor system and the target accuracy as the starting point for the sensor development. Figure 4 shows the target specification listed for sensor unit parameters and the accuracy. The recommended values is valid for the majority of water quality parameters, based on salmonid species during fresh water phase of production.


A survey was made on commercial sensors available on the market today. The result was that for DO (dissolved oxygen), CO2, pH, and Temperature, various commercial transducer probes are available. There were candidates for integration in the AQUAlity system could be selected for verification. For the parameters ammonium and nitrite, there where are conflicting demands. The current compact, low service sensors was not sensitive and accurate enough for the AQUAlity system.
– Sensitive systems (down to ppb level) are available of colorimetric type, however those are bulky/complex and require consumption of sampled water and a continuous adding of reagents.
– None of the commercial sensors fully cover the targeted AQUAlity specifications
– Still, some candidates were suggested for potential experimental verification in AQUAlity

For the software development, a survey identified all the parameters the software had to monitor and control. A database was developed on the basis of that survey. D.3.1 describes the software development and figure 5 illustrate the two software packages in the AQUAlity system 1) “Farmer user interface UI and data base control software” and 2) “Web application and Data base”.

This figure also includes a “Master unit”. The consortium chose to utilise the OxyGuard Pacific unit as “Master unit” because it is already exists and it could concentrate the research and development effort on currently unsolved issues instead. The connection between the Philips sensor unit (the MACA) and the “Master unit” is a Slave unit that was constructed to make it possible for the two systems transfer signals between each other. Exiting sensors deemed useful to be utilised right away were connected directly to the Master unit (OxyGuard Pacific).

The initial idea about how a final AQUAlity sensor system could look like is illustrated in figure 6.

The initial idea was that the ammonia/nitrate sensor and other sensors should be contained in a “shoe box size” system ideally mounted at each tank in a RAS facility and then connected wireless to a central Master unit at the fish farm.

The development of the Miniaturized Automated Colorimetric Analyzer (MACA)
The survey identified a lot of different sensors that could used for the purpose (D1.1 D1.3). If ammonia and nitrate could be measured on a regularly basis it could make a big change for control biofilters in modern RAS. Nitrite and ammonia are toxic to fish even at low concentrations and concentrations of both analytes can increase rapidly e.g. if fish in densely populated RAS systems get stressed. Ideally, the concentration of nitrite and ammonia should be known to the RAS operator at all times, but at least they should be measured several times per hour, around the clock. For this purpose, a concept for a Miniaturized Automated Colorimetric Analyzer (MACA) was developed, which aims at measuring nitrite and TAN multiple times per hour, 24 hours per day, during one week, requiring only minimal operation, surveillance and maintenance time by RAS personnel. The TAN concentration (Total Ammonia Nitrogen) can be used to calculate the ammonia concentration, for which an algorithm is provided.
Farmers use manual test kits from ammonia today which are based on evaluating the colour of paper strips with a reference colour code.

Currently the more advanced systems are expensive very bulky and need laboratory conditions (educated operators) to be able to function correctly. No existing equipment can be used by regular fish farmers today.

The large sensor study led to seven concepts for ammonia/nitrite measurement were made by Philips. Based on a discussion on risks and the possibility get to the level of a demonstrator within the time and funds available a decision was made by the consortium to go for concept number 6 (Automated colorimetric CFA). Figure 7 shows the seven concepts and they are described in detail in D1.3.

Philips developed a concept for a system that consists of components and sub-systems from leading technology providers such as Ocean Optics, and IDEX/Upchurch Scientific. This allowed easy access to trusted sources in potential post-project activities by AQUAlity SME partners. The MACA system is described in D2.3 and it is made up of the following elements:

1 x MACA set assy, a mechanic-fluidic assembly, including pumps, tubing, valves, fluid reservoirs etc. in which water samples are prepared for colorimetric evaluation and in which the analyte concentration is finally measured.

1 x E-control cabinet, a box including electronic hardware that provides power to the MACA set assy and that enables the controller PC and the MACA set assy to communicate with each other.

1 x Controller PC, onto which special software for driving and controlling the MACA set assy is installed.

The heart of the system is a peristaltic pump with three rollers that each can rotate in different directions simultaneously and at different speed. It takes in the water sample from the bio filter, transports that sample through the analyzer and adds particular volumes of reagents to it at the appropriate time. Finally the pump transports the sample through the detector and discharges it into a collection bin. The chemical reactions take place in a vessel that was custom designed by Philips Research. It has a volume of only 2 ml and can be heated and cooled actively in order to optimize the chemical reaction speed for the shortest possible process time. The colorimetric detector is a small yet extremely accurate high resolution spectrometer that analyses the light that is transmitted by the water sample in a flow cell with a volume of only 200 micro liters. All components have been mounted on a moisture and chemical resistant PTFE bottom plate, with adequate space between the components in order to allow maintenance or repairs to be done. The system is protected from the environment by a transparent, impact resistant cover lid.
The fluidic system is controlled via an electronics cabinet, packed with commercially available power supply and driver solutions. Also this cabinet is made splash water tight with a transparent cover lid. The user interface is a regular laptop PC with a Windows operating system and Philips dedicated software. The three elements have a wired connection to each other that can be detached for convenience during transport.

Figure 8 shows the configuration of the envisioned Philips stand-alone MACA system.

At the M24 AQUAlity Consortium management meeting in Eindhoven, Philips provided proof that the envisioned concept could actually be realized, based on which the AQUAlity consortium formally authorized continuation of the nitrite and ammonia analyzer development as planned. Leading up to the transfer in April 2014, the system was improved several times and finally tested to verify the system against the requirements.
The full reasoning behind the MACA demonstrator design is captured in “The MACA Global Design Specification”, which is included in the transfer documentation.

RAS water cleaning
The composition of RAS water and the type, load and size of solid particles in it, can vary tremendously between farms and is therefore totally unpredictable. Mechanical filters and the bio-filter will remove a large part of them, but most likely there will still be solid particles present where the water sample for TAN and nitrite measurement is taken, at the outlet of the bio-filter. In order to prevent the tiny MACA structures from getting blocked, these solid particles need to be removed from the water sample before it is taken in. A pore filter at the inlet of the MACA assures this, but it will get blocked very quickly if the water sample is not pre-cleaned first. This can be done in numerous ways, of which most are some type of pore filter. Regardless of the type of the filter material, it will get clogged up sooner or later and it will have to be replaced in order to secure flow rates and water quality. This makes them unsuitable for AQUAlity.

For the MACA and the AQUAlity system as a whole, a RAS water pre-cleaning solution is required that is:
• Effective i.e. removes large as well as extremely small particles.
• Efficient i.e. generates sufficient clean water within a short period of time from a relatively small volume of green water.
• Small in size (volume).
• Affordable and cost efficient i.e. fair investment cost, long life, low service demand.
• User friendly i.e. simple to operate and maintenance free.

The best (and maybe only) alternative for a pore filter is a ‘centrifugal separator‘. The physical principle that their design is based on is that light and heavy materials are redistributed under centrifugal forces. The heavy materials are collected at the outer radius of the centrifugal separator and the light fluids at the centre of it. In between these two regions, there is (theoretically) a region where there are no particles present unless they have the same density as the liquid.


Figure 9. Illustration of the centrifugal separation principle with three location radii defined, of which R2 is the location where clean liquid can be extracted

PEN conducted a market scan and benchmark study and concluded that no commercially available centrifugal separator available on the market today can meet the AQUAlity requirements. Therefore a special type of pre-filter needed to be developed in order to make the MACA concept viable and PEN delivered on this with the presentation of what was named the “Discontinuous Centrifugal Separator” concept (DCS).

The PEN DCS concept is based on familiar centrifugal separation principles, but differs from existing solutions on two crucial points:
1. The concept allows for discontinuous separation. It offers the combined advantages of a separator and a centrifuge. The PEN DCS is a closed system in which centrifugal forces are generated in a confined space by means of a mechanically driven rotor. This allows for adjustable G-forces and time regimes, while charging and discharging the separator remains fully automatically.
2. The PEN DCS removes particles that are heavier than water as well as particles that are lighter than water, so effectively all particles, given enough time.

An illustration of the PEN DCS is showed in figure 10.


Figure 10. Illustration of the PEN DCS showing details of the rotor (right), the central axis(middle) and stator with input and output channels(left).

The PEN DCS concept is described and explained in detail and references are given to documentation, specifications, and visualizations that are delivered separately. The concept was not realized within the AQUAlity project lifetime, but technical product documentation is delivered on a quality and detail level that enables SME’s to take up realization, testing and further improvement instantly. An invention disclosure for this concept was registered on behalf of the AQUAlity consortium with Philips Intellectual Properties and Standardization.


The MACA demonstrator is based on mature and reliable techniques, being electromechanical sample preparation and colorimetric analyte determination according to the Griess and Berthelot reactions. The concept means to enable round the clock analysis of water samples over long periods of time, with limited demand for maintenance by the system operator. The built-in peristaltic pump needs to be calibrated regularly and depending on the water quality at a particular farm, filters (and possibly the integrated static mixer) will need to be cleaned or replaced at regular intervals. Once per week, the reagent solutions need to be replenished and the rubber tubing of the peristaltic pump needs to be replaced when the dosing accuracy runs out of specification.
The MACA concept is potentially cost effective due to the limited number of parts of which the system is made up, due to the wide availability of standard components and sub-systems and because of the robustness of techniques that have been around for decades. No other concept provides the means to perform more than a hundred reliable nitrite or TAN measurements per day with as little effort from fish farm staff. The cost effectiveness might even be increased in time by introducing more functions to one analyzer. Many other water variables can be determined calorimetrically and fish farmers may eventually be enabled to collect them all with one system e.g. in order to comply with environmental regulations.

A slave unit was developed by ISRI to make communication possible between the MACA and the OxyGuard Pacific (Master) unit as shows in figure 11.


Figure 11. The developed slave unit for communication possible between the MACA and the OxyGuard Pacific (Master) unit

The slave units design is based around a Microchip PIC32MX795F512L 32-bit microcontroller. The implementation for the prototype design is based on the Microchip PIC32 Ethernet Development Board, directly mounted on an ISRI input/output (I/O) expansion board to support the future integration.


The OxyGuard Pacific master unit
The consortium decided to utilise the already existing OxyGuard Pacific unit as the master unit to concentrate the effort on the ammonium/nitrite sensors and the software. The Pacific unit is a measuring, monitoring and control system designed for use in fish farms. It is both multichannel and multi-parameter, and forms a modular small-size complete system. It can be used both as a standalone system or as part of a larger system.

The AQUAlity multisensor system connected to the Pacific unit currently collects:
All water flows in a RAS facility
Biofilter level:
Dissolved oxygen – DO and % saturation, CO2 and %vol.
Temperature, pH, Salinity, Total Gas Pressure (TGP) and %resolution.
Total ammonia nitrogen (TAN), NH3, NO2, NH4
Tank level:
DO and % saturation, Temperature
Fish farm level :
Air Temperature, Air Pressure, Air Humidity, Air flow rate

The AQUAlity system can be configured to support any sensor compatible with the Pacific unit


Software development
The farm control system with a database was specified to be able to work as a separate farm control package with a database. When connected to the multisensor system through the OxyGuard Pacific unit all the multisensor parameters can be recorded automatically.
The software system consists of two main software elements:
Farmer local administration system (includes Farmer UI)
Web application for measurement storage, analysis and know-how knowledge base (includes Web UI for farmer, admin and expert interfaces)

The MACA is connected to the Pacific unit through the slave unit and measurement are fed into the database as well.
The software is still a prototype and more development is needed for make real software products. All the elements that were planned have been developed and tested in practice. The MACA unit has only been connected to the software at the trials at Nofima. The two fish farms did only have the Pacific unit and sensors connected as the MACA was not in a state to be moved into a real fish farm environment at this state.
The AQUAlity software tools include a desktop stand-alone farm control system, AQUAlity webservices and a web-based expert’s analysis application. The user interface is compatible with the standard Microsoft windows desktop and a browser within the scope of the project. The stand-alone farm control system consists of a local database that stores water quality data, and a desktop application where the farmer can monitor real time data & perform trend analysis. The AQUAlity web services acts as an interface between the farm control system and the expert’s analysis system. The local farm data is exported to the expert’s database using webservices. The web-based expert’s analysis application includes an expert’s database that contains historic farm data for water quality, data for analysis by the expert, the expert’s advice and an optimal range for each water quality parameter.
The stand-alone farm control system will ship on a CD along with the database. The web services, expert analysis application and expert’s database is hosted on a network server.
Figure 12 shows a model of the AQUAlity system including the software.
Figure 12. A model of the AQUAlity system including the software.

The AQUAlity architecture allows for small or large fish farms to be catered for. Each RAS system is monitored by a controller which collects the sensor data configured for the filter function(s) and tanks connected. This is passed back to the Farmer UI application software with an XML file structure over Ethernet link. Multiple RAS systems at a single farm are catered for by multiple instantiations of the Farmer UI software, all of which connect using web services over the internet to the Expert database.
The following is the flow diagram of the RAS system (figure 13) - a controller consists of a RAS/Filter with multiple sensors and multiple tanks.


Figure 13. Flow diagram of RAS

The real time monitor window displays water quality parameters data (figure 14) which refreshes every 30 sec and the data are logged in the local database every 5 min.


Figure 14. User Interface for Real-time Monitor

The historic water quality data overview is given in the graphic form in the AQUAlity software user interface.
The graph in Figure 15 displays water quality parameter (pH) data with the optimal experts range – maximum, minimum and ideal value. This will help the farmer to maintain water quality within the specified range.


Figure 15. The historic pH data displayed in the AQUAlity software interface with the expert’s optimal range

The software caters for different fish species and counties, which provides advice on different environmental conditions and how to improve & maintain water quality for better performance to the farmer.
Figure 16 shows the data trend analysis. The normalised chart is a histogram which is generated for the different water quality parameters and yield, the expert’s recommended range – minimum & maximum and the expert’s advice. The three bars on the graph represent the local farm data in blue, the expert’s ideal value (using AQUAlity web services) in yellow, and an average of historic farm data from the expert’s database (using AQUAlity web services) in red for the water quality parameters and yield.
The main purpose of the data trend analysis is to compare RAS performance with the local data, the expert’s ideal value and average data from other farms. The expert’s optimal range and advice will help the farmer to maintain the water quality and RAS performance.

Figure 16. The Data trend analysis in the AQUAlity software interface with the expert’s optimal range

The AQUAlity software enables the user to export the data from the local database into the excel file using the option given in the real time monitoring window. The exported excel file contains information about filter values, tank values, farm values and sensor types identification as shown in figure 17.

The data from the local database can be exported using AQUAlity webservices to expert’s database for remote data storage, which facilitates the expert to analyse the historic data and allow fish farmers to compare water quality to other European farms. By using the web based expert’s analysis application an expert can access historic farm data of all farms and provide analysis and recommendation. The data can be exported as a csv file as shown in Figure 18.

AQUAlity – Stand-alone Farm Control System – Demo version
A version of the farm control system was created with some of the features disabled for demonstration purpose. The AQUAlity local database consists of sample data from the Nofima’s database for the demonstration purpose.
The main features of the Farm Control System:
• Setup of RAS System – Farm, Controller, RAS & Tank (Disabled)
• Real-time monitoring of water quality parameters (Disabled)
• Add sensor data
• Stock Management – Feed level, Start batch, Yield & mortality
• Observe RAS performance with the experts optimal range (Min, Max & Ideal) by graphical display
• Data trend analysis with the expert’s recommendations
• Export data to the expert’s database (Disabled)

Tests of hardware and software

Test at Nofima.
The components of the AQUAlity system were integrated for testing at the Nofima Centre for Recirculation in Aquaculture (NCRA) at Sunndalsøra, Norway.
In summary, the Pacific Main unit (Figure 19) was installed in the recirculation loop after the carbon dioxide degasing column in the pump sump leading further on to the rearing tanks (figure 20). Total of five commercially available in-line probes were connected to the Main Unit: oxygen, carbon dioxide, pH, salinity and total gas pressure.
The Ethernet connection between Pacific Main Unit and the user interface was established and the monitoring of the water quality was done using the AQUAlity software from the Control room located one floor above the Water treatment room where the Main Unit was installed.

Figure 19. Pacific Main Unit and in-line probes installed at Nofima Centre for Recirculation in aquaculture, Sunndalsøra, Norway

Figure 20. A) Schematic overview of the recirculating aquaculture system (RAS) at the Nofima Centre for Recirculation in Aquaculture (NCRA) used for AQUAlity platform testing. The position of the in-line probes is indicated in red and marked as sampling point. B) The Pacific Main Unit and in-line probe installed in the pumps sump of the recirculation loop.

The following are the main aspects of the platform that were tested:
• Accuracy of in-line water quality measurements,
• Response time of in-line probes to changes in water quality
• Maintenance requirements for the in-line instruments
• Data output, storage, display and export using the AQUAlity software tools
• MACA accuracy range and performance

The testing started in the recirculation system without fish (March-May 2014) and was followed by production of Atlantic salmon smolt according to the well-established protocols for commercial production (May-August 2014). The MACA and software were further on tested until end of October and November 2014, respectively. The detailed description of the testing is given in the Deliverable 5.1.
In conclusion, the results of the testing show close link between the accuracy of in-line probes and proper probe maintenance. Regular calibration and self-cleaning increased the accuracy of the measurements over time. The sensors were responsive to sadden and slow changes in the water quality in production circumstances.
Data collected during the testing were readily available via AQUAlity software user interface as point measurements, refreshed every 30 sec. and in graphic form for view of historic water quality data. The possibility to have easy access to water quality data and to use recommendations from the web based AQUAlity service will lead to more efficient daily management of recirculating systems. Data sharing and build-up of the knowledge database enabled by the AQUAlity software tools, together with the available recommendations from the experts can initiate the creation of close network of European fish farmers and help faster growth and knowledge transfer of the European aquaculture industry.
A new multisensor functional model, MACA for measurements of total ammonia nitrogen and nitrite nitrogen was custom-made for use in aquaculture in AQUAlity project. The detection range established during testing at Nofima was between 0.1 and 5 mg L-1 for TAN and between 0.1 and 2.5 mg L-1 for nitrite nitrogen, which are relevant ranges, observed in recirculation aquaculture production systems for salmonids. In addition MACA functional prototype was continuously operated with recirculating water and the knowledge gained from the testing will be valuable for further development and commercialization of the multisensor unit.
The AQUAlity platform provides the opportunity for full automatization of daily water quality measurements in recirculation aquaculture systems and for European aquaculture in general. Efficient management and good overview of water quality conditions, together with the development of knowledge data base and close network of European fish farmers is a way further towards more productive and progressive European aquaculture.
Therefore the further development of the AQUAlity platform prototype to the commercial level will be beneficial for fish farmers and aquaculture industry in Europe.


Test at two fish farms in Spain and Germany
The AQUAlity platform was tested in real aquaculture setting at two SME’s fish farms, Truchas de la Alcarria sl (TRUCH) in Spain and Fischzucht Abtshagen Gmbh & Co. Kg (FISCH) in Germany between September and November 2014. The MACA functional model created in the course of the project required skilled personal for daily operation and was not robust enough to be exposed to the weather elements and real aquaculture settings. Therefore MACA was not suitable for field trials and was not tested at SME’s sites.
Initial deployment of the AQUAlity platforms was accompanied by training for the SME’s done by Nofima and verification that the prototype units are correctly installed and operational. Nofima also used independent manual sensors to verify that the AQUAlity units are operating within operational specification. In addition, data logged during the field trials were analysed by Nofima. The results of the field trials are presented in detail in the Deliverable 5.2.
The results of the field trial at TRUCH and FISCH show that AQUAlity platform measurements were responsive to the change in water quality, both during 24h and in longer periods of time (over one month time), and both when operating in outdoor and indoor conditions.
The use of the AQUAlity platform enabled fish farmers to follow daily changes in the water quality in real time and it allowed trending and analysis of historical water quality data. The analysis of all collected data gave new insights into the water quality dynamics at both fish farms and further on enabled expert analysis.
The installation of AQUAlity platform and maintenance of the hardware proved somewhat challenging and has to be made even more user friendly and intuitive in order for fish farmers to take this system in use. Video manuals for probe calibration and maintenance and video presentation of the software and web based application potential and user interface guide would be valuable addition to the AQUAlity software tool.
With AQUAlity platform fish farmers are also given the opportunity to design the configuration of the platform by choosing in-line sensors for water quality parameters that are the most relevant for the species they are farming. For example, while oxygen is not the most critical water quality parameter for African catfish farmers, trout and salmon farmers measure oxygen regularly in all rearing units.
The MACA functional model was not available for field trials in this project, but its further development and availability for commercial use will undoubtedly increase the value of the AQUAlity platform that was tested at the SME fish farms.
As a result of the expert analysis, recommendations are given to both farms in the Deliverable 5.2 on how to improve conditions and water monitoring process on their respective farms. However, the full potential of the AQUAlity web based application as an arena for knowledge transfer and exchange should be further developed and tested on a larger community of European fish farms as the field trial was limited to only two farms growing different species.


Education material

Training of the AGs and exploitation manager was carried out at the Month 31 Consortium meeting held at the Nofima Centre for Recirculation in Aquaculture, Sunndalsøra, Norway (18th-19th June, 2014). The following items were covered during the training sessions:
• The use of the Pacific unit and commercially available sensors in the RAS was described
• The Farmer user interface of the AQUAlity software collecting and displaying data from the pacific unit was demonstrated
• Nitrite measurements by the MACA unit were demonstrated by Dag Egil Bundgaard and Kees Bink
• A training session was given by Chris Abbott on the installation and operation of the AQUAlity software and web application.
In addition a webinar was hosted by ISRI for training on the installation and use of the final AQUAlity software for all the consortium partners on 3rd September 2014.
Based on the training material developed by the RTDs and the AGs being trained at a RTDs training course in Norway the AGs developed of training material for their members. The material had to take care not to reveal any confidential information that is to be used by the AGs after the project or by the SME performers. The training material was approved for public use by the consortium use before it was used for the public. The first version of the training material for the AG members. It consists of in total 5 files. The overall project and the results are presented in a general Power Point presentation. Three Power Point presentations describe the AQUAlity software. Training material for the AQUAlity multi-sensor platform and the MACA are in a Word document.
The final developed material consists of 7 files. In addition to updating information in the existing training material it included the development of two more files describing the software developed and an instruction for the farm control online demonstrator.

Potential Impact:
Potential impact and main dissemination activities and exploitation results

The project has been promoted at DanaQ, 2013 and AquaNor, 2013, in addition to the activities described in D8.4.
Since the project is still at the early prototype stage, and is at present developing equipment that can constitute new IPR or secret know-how, it is difficult to plan the dissemination of any result of the project in detail. General knowledge of the existence of the project is however, becoming widespread in the Aquaculture community.
The AQUAlity project and the preliminary results that could be released to the public have been promoted at:
Fish international, Bremen, Germany 12-14 February 2012
European Seafood Exposition (ESE), Brussels, Belgium, 24-26 April 2012
Future Fish Eurasia, Izmir, Turkey, 7-9 June 2012
AQUA 2012, Prague, Czech Republic, 1-5 September 2012
Conxemar, Vigo, Spain, 2-4 October 2012
Eurofish Governing Council (12 countries), Copenhagen 24-25 January 2013
AquaMed, Milan, Italy. 18 February 2013
The 8th North Atlantic Seafood Forum, Bergen, Norway, 5-7 March 2013
The eighth session of the GFCM Committee on Aquaculture, Paris, France, 13-15 March 2013
European Seafood Exposition (ESE), Brussels, Belgium, 23-25 April 2013
European Aquaculture Technology and Innovation Platform (EATiP) 5th Annual General Assembly, Brussels, Belgium, 10 September 2013
The 7th session of the Sub-Committee on Aquaculture, St Petersburg, Russia; 7-11 October 2013
Eurofish Governing Council (12 countries), Copenhagen 23-24 January 2014
Offshore Mariculture Conference, Naples, 9-11 April 2014
Seafood Expo Global (SEG), Brussels, 21-25 May 2014
Further dissemination will take place at the Tenth International Conference on Recirculating Aquaculture in Roanoke, USA, in August 2015, and through an article to be published in the Eurofish Magazine. Nofima will also spread knowledge of the project. They submitted an abstract entitled “Performance of the multi-sensor automated platform for continuous monitoring of the water quality in recirculation aquaculture systems (RAS)” for presentation at Aquaculture Europe 2014 in San Sebastian, Spain. This was accepted and the work was presented as a poster presentation. Nofima also presented the scientific data from the project at “Fremtidens smoltproduksjon 2014”, Sunndalsøra, 22. – 23. October 2014.
A meeting has been held with people of the “Sensorfish” project during which the possibility of synergy between the projects was considered. It was concluded that there were no immediate or likely areas where this could be the case.
OxyGuard have contact with the aquaculture market. This is maintained both through direct contact with fish farms and through a world-wide network of distributors. It is OxyGuard’s experience that demand for new products arises even before the product is fully developed. This can be due to the nature of the aquaculture market, where news travels very quickly, and to the ease of global communication found today. OxyGuard, for their part, do not anticipate any difficulty in marketing results of the project.
The aquaculture market is covered by several trade publications. These are traditionally very willing to publish articles regarding new equipment and practices. OxyGuard have contact with a number of publications that provide good world-wide coverage, for example:
Fish Farming International.
Hatchery International
The Global Aquaculture Advocate
Eurofish magazine
Infofish International magazine
Other consortium members will use their own networks to distribute knowledge of the project and its results, and will maintain contact and collaboration to ensure the full exploitation of the results.

Scientific results
The data produced in the AQUAlity project were presented on several international conferences and workshops, mainly in the last year of the project when AQUAlity platform was tested.
Following is the list of scientific meetings and university lectures that AQUAlity data were presented in:
• Kolarevic J., Bundgaard D., Reiten B.K.M Nerdal K.S. Bink K., Bouma P., Frederiksen M., Petersen P., Linga J., Abbott C., Saether B.S (2014). PERFORMANCE OF THE MULTI-SENSOR AUTOMATED PLATFORM FOR CONTINUOUS MONITORING OF THE WATER QUALITY IN RECIRCULATION AQUACULTURE SYSTEMS (RAS). Aquaculture Europe 2014, Donostia-san Sebastian, Spain, October 14-17, 2014; Poster session, Land Based Technologies Posters, poster number 162: https://www.was.org/easOnline/AbstractDetail.aspx?i=3916
• Kolarevic J., Automatization of the water quality analysis in RAS (2014). Fremtidens Smoltproduksjon, Tredje konferanse om resirkulering av vann i akvakultur (In English: Future smolt production, The third conference on recirculation of water in aquaculture, Sunndalsøra, 23.-24.10.2014: http://smoltproduksjon.no/Bilder/TidlKonf%202014/Kolarevic.pdf
• Kolarevic J. (2014). Water quality monitoring in recirculation aquaculture systems (RAS) for salmonids. Lecture at the course Vannkvalitet og vannbehandling i resirkuleringssystemer (In English: Water quality and water treatment in recirculation systems), Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU), Trondheim, Norway, 13.11.2014.
The AQUAlity results will also be presented at the workshop: “Fish and health and welfare in Nordic recirculating aquaculture systems (RAS)” that will take place between 3rd- 4th February 2015 in Helsinki, sponsored by The Nordic Council of Ministers.
The list of all scientific presentations is given in the Deliverable 7.1 together with the abstracts submitted to two conferences and a poster presented at the Aquaculture Europe 2014.

Exploitation results
Further development work is needed before fish farms can obtain maximum benefit from the results of the project.
MACA
The main aim for the MACA must be to produce a unit that is small enough, easy to use and that has a price that makes it attractive for fish farms to purchase and use. Since the measurements made by the MACA are a vital next step in the effective production of farmed fish it will then find wide use, exploiting the work carried out on the MACA during the project in full.
Since the present version of the MACA is a demonstrator unit that verifies the principle exploitation must start with further development work.
Such work would commence with investigation with regard to the possible availability of even smaller components, and investigation with regard to obtaining components at a lower price. Such work could perhaps be performed with the aid of an SME that specialises in small-size analytical equipment. If such an SME were not found an investigation of the feasibility of manufacturing specially designed parts, rather than purchasing the parts, could take place.
The next step is to perform a cost-benefit analysis to determine the optimal procedure for further development. When this has been found development can proceed to a stage where the control and power supply electronics and enclosure can be designed.
The need to place the considerable number of components of very different type that form the MACA into a small enclosure makes the mechanical design of the assembly difficult. The design of any one part can influence that of other parts. This will make the design process complicated and probably protracted.
When a new, smaller version of the MACA has been produced testing must be carried out and a production model decided upon. After this would follow:
-Field testing of pre-prototype version at a small number of sites.
-Modification as needed to form a prototype that can be manufactured and tested at a larger number of sites.
-Modification as needed to achieve a production model.
To do this the SME’s of the project agree that another project, AQUAlity 2, is needed. The size of this new project is estimated to be similar to that of AQUAlity.

AQUAlity 2 will consist of two main parts, similar to those of AQUAlity:
1) The “miniaturisation” of the sensor for nitrite and ammonia.
2) Further work on the AQUAlity software package.
AQUAlity has shown that a miniature sensor, a MACA, is feasible. To be commercially attractive the MACA must be made substantially smaller and easier to use.
The AQUAlity software package can initially be used as it is, but needs to be marketed and improved, both with regard to further functions and according to experience gained from its use.

Nitrite and Ammonium sensor
The further development work that is necessary will include the following:

Mechanical analysis-component optimisation:
Further investigation of available components and/or suppliers of such
Evaluation with regard to suitability
Feasibility with regard to specially made parts – in house or via others
Purchase/manufacture of chosen parts
Prototype production
Test and evaluation

Development of system(s) for analytical reagents. The reagents used in the present demonstrator are made up manually, and the containers of the demonstrator are filled manually. A cartridge system, or similar, that can be used by people with no background in analytical chemistry, is needed. The fish farmer should be able to simply replace the reagent cartridges, for example once a week:
Investigation of available methods for the packaging of such reagents and for using these in the MACA.
Evaluation of optimal production of such – in-house or via others
Purchase/manufacture of chosen reagent packages and parts necessary for their use

Mechanical design optimisation. This will include the integration of the mechanical analysis components with the chosen parts for providing the analytical reagents.

Electronics design optimisation. The mechanical parts consist of pumps and valves that are electronically controlled, and sensors giving electronic signals. Power supplies and electronic circuits are needed for this. The present demonstrator consists of a power supply unit with standard off-the-shelf supplies and a controller PC. these must be replaced by purpose-designed components. The processes needed will comprise the following:
Establishment of precise input-output signal specifications
Circuit design and choice of components, including price/size/availability evaluation
Pre-prototype production, test and evaluation

MACA software design optimisation.
The MACA control software package that runs on the PC must be transferred to a CPU integrated into the MACA electronics and optimised to suit the actual electronics.

Prototype production and test.

Reiteration of any of the above may be needed before a version suitable for field trials is produced.
When a suitable version for field trials has been produced a typical plan for the introduction of new equipment to the aquaculture market can be followed, for example:

Alpha version testing: Here the equipment concerned is tested at two or three sites.

Beta version introduction: Here a limited production is offered for use at, for example, 5 to 10 sites.

First production version launch: The production version can then be marketed. This may find use at many sites, for example from 25 to 200.

Second production version: Experience gained during the use of the first production model can lead to modification and a subsequent production model.

The sites for the Alpha and Beta versions are often found by direct contact. After this, introduction (demonstration) at trade exhibitions, for example AquaNor, together with press releases in trade publications, facilitates further marketing. Advertising can take place as needed in the leading trade publications for the aquaculture market. These include Fish Farming International, the Eurofish magazine, the Hatchery magazine and others.

It is OxyGuard’s goal to be able to include this sensor in the range of sensors that the company offers. It is in the interest of the SME AGs that there is ammonia and nitrite measurement equipment available on the market for their members.

Future System and Software

The primary requirement towards effecting the exploitation of the software is the establishment of an organisation that hosts the data base and expert software, makes it available via the internet and manages and updates it as necessary.
OxyGuard International A/S would like to establish such an organisation as a joint venture with the other project members based at the OxyGuard premises.
OxyGuard themselves will continue to develop the Pacific system that is used as the primary farm control unit.
A considerable amount of further development of the farm, web service, expert system and data base software is advisable before it becomes a package that will be very attractive to fish farmers.
The present version, possibly with some adaptation, can perhaps suit some users in Europe, but tests are probably needed before this can be determined.

The establishment of a software package that attains the full possibilities of such a system, would entail the establishment of a project in itself, “AQUAlity 2”.

Software for use in RAS systems, for communication and for the expert system can, as far as exploitation on the aquaculture market is concerned, be regarded as one package. It can also be expected that the exact degree of exploitation for this will also depend on ease of use and price. Another factor that influences exploitation of the software is that the concept is new, and will need to be “sold” to fish farmers. This will probably take place over a period of time. However, news travels fast amongst fish farmers, so it is possible that a demand for the software grows quickly once it has proved to work.

Exploitation of the software can follow a similar pattern as the sensor, but since some training will be advisable in order to use it fully methods for this must be included. Introductory presentation talks and demonstration at trade exhibitions will be an important start. A stand at such exhibitions, with an operating dummy system offering a hands-on experience of what the system can do, will also be advisable.
Other methods of creating interest in the software would be a video and an interactive tutorial. The latter could be part of, or taken from, the self-study training program that is planned.
The establishment of an on-line user group will also be a possibility.

The project partners plan to establish the AQUAlity 2 project and they are looking for funding opportunities at the moment. The SME AGs are of the opinion that the best exploitation of the AQUAlity project results are thought cooperation with the SME partner OxyGuard and the other AQUAlity project partners.

List of Websites:
www.AQUAlityproject.com