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Continuous hazardous water Pollutants sensing in the environment

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - CoPs (Continuous hazardous water Pollutants sensing in the environment)

Reporting period: 2019-09-01 to 2020-08-31

Pesticide and nitrate pollution in fresh waters pose a significant risk to public health and the environment. Exposure to pesticides can lead to several cancer types or Parkinson’s disease, while nitrate can result in “Blue Baby Syndrome” and cause eutrophication. According to latest estimates, getting sick from drinking tap water in Europe had a societal cost of €220 million. Meanwhile, inefficient water monitoring based on sampling and lab analyses does not provide early alerts. Water suppliers need to meet EU monitoring requirements and react instantly with contamination treatment protocols, protect water supplies and avoid economic losses through shutdowns.

Our innovative solution rapidly detects specific water pollutants and transmits real-time data on contaminant levels and movements in natural water systems before they reach water infrastructures and consumers. It saves both time and costs (by at least 40%), it vastly improves data quality and quantity, and it provides a data analysis and hazardous pollutants alert service to monitoring agencies.

Our goal is to mature, scale-up and demonstrate the production of the CoPs sensor platform for continuous in-situ water monitoring, targeting water suppliers as initial clients, and with the potential to create new markets within the agriculture and private well owner segments.
The solution consists of several different components, the pesticide and nitrate sensors, the sensor reader, the sensor-containing probe, a datalogger and a data management system. The work is carried out by three project partners. The probe contains an automatic sampling chamber where the sensors are implemented and the electronics that will control the measurements and send the information further in the system. The probe is submerged in the water and is controlled by a datalogger which handles all the power, communication and commands to the probe and the communication of the results to a cloud-based server. The data management system consists of a system to store information from the sensor, logger and the results. All technical information and data are available and presented in a web-based system which also includes alarming and reporting functionalities.

IPM developed the probe design that needs to be only 2 cm in diameter, contain all the aforementioned components and at the same time be waterproof and robust. IPM has intensively tested the probe in different harsh conditions with no water leakage, which reflects the high quality of the design. Furthermore, IPM have been developing the sensors which are the heart of the device. It has been possible to provide calibrations for several pesticides in addition to nitrate in the relevant concentration range. The sensors have also been tested in the laboratory in the presence of interfering chemicals revealing maintained selectivity and sensitivity of the detections. The assembled probe has successfully been demonstrated by IPM.

Palmsens has been working on the next generation of the sensor reader. The reader has already been tested with IPM sensors where it can deliver accurate and correct measurements and it can communicate with the communication module developed and produced by Cautus. I

Cautus Geo initially started the work with CoPs sensor using Cautus Logger 1 (CL1 data logger) which is developed to control and communicate data from the probe to our cloud solution. In the first phase we have developed a dedicated CoPs datalogger with unique functionality for CoPs.
The data from the sensor will be presented in a web solution in close to real-time. This is being continuously developed to fulfill the market requirement and to handle the different data from the CoPs sensor. We now have a system that could be used to store and present data from the CoPs sensor.
In our market analysis we have identified nitrate/nutrients as a key challenge in water pollution which cause damage to a many part of the world. In Europe, 80 % of its fresh water has periods with too high nitrate values which is critical to the environment. Today a good quality nitrate sensor with low recalibration requirements costs around 7-15 000 USD.

Sources of in-water nutrient pollution are widespread and include stormwater, wastewater, agricultural runoff, atmospheric deposition (e.g. from combustion of fossil fuels), and household sources (e.g. yard fertilizers, pet waste, detergents). Growing awareness of nutrient pollution and the need to find solutions is increasing interest in using location-specific in-water nutrient measurements to prioritize nutrient problems, identify their sources, compare and validate response options, verify compliance with nutrient discharge limits, and “score” water quality trades, offsets, and credits. Nutrient measurements are also used to make internal operating and management decisions involving flow rates and treatment levels at wastewater and drinking water facilities and in various types of agricultural and industrial operations.

Currently available methods of measuring in-water nutrients are based either on simple test kits which are fast and inexpensive, but too imprecise for most purposes; on water sampling and laboratory analyses which are accurate and precise, but cumbersome, time consuming, and expensive; or on in-water sensors and analyzers. Use of currently available in-water sensors has not been widespread because of their complexity, technical demands, reliability, and purchase and operating costs, as well as lag times in laboratory analysis. Market prices of currently available in-water sensor systems are in the range of $7000 to $15,000, field deployments are limited to a few weeks, and an advanced level of training is required to operate them effectively.

It is generally recognized that high cost but reliable measures of nutrients in water improves decision making in many places where these decisions are critical. As a result, large potential markets are expected to exist for new methods of producing accurate, precise water nutrient measurements at a reasonable price.

Preliminary assessments from US in 2017, of existing markets related to Federal, state, university, industrial, agricultural, and non-profit research and monitoring needs suggest that overall demand for good quality water nutrient sensors, over the next five years, will be 24,000 to 30,000 units. At an average market price of $5,000 per unit, this constitutes a potential U.S. market of $120 million to $150 million. We know that challenge and demand in Europe and Asia is similar we have seen that volume in Europe fits well with US based on area and population. The market in Europe is estimated to be equal to the US market.

Information from both Nothern America and Europe clearly say that if a high-quality nitrate sensor with a price less than 5000 USD is available this will lead to a much better real time monitoring and early warning of nitrate pollution. This will have a huge positive affect on the environment, wildlife, humans, agriculture and wastewater treatment.

In addition to the nutrient sensor, the chemical sensors we provide constitute a new technology that there is no rival to. The technology that is being developed by the consortium will make it available to measure carcinogenic material directly in water and play a major role in enhancing decision making and act as an alarm system when contamination incidents are present.