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The first high-performance, all-in-one optical sensor technology to monitor the health of our oceans

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - AquapHOx (The first high-performance, all-in-one optical sensor technology to monitor the health of our oceans)

Período documentado: 2019-11-01 hasta 2021-01-31

Today, it is already apparent that CO2 emissions have led to a dramatic acidification of the oceans. As a result, algae grow undamped, fishes die, the natural balance of ecosystems is permanently disturbed. Acidification is measured by the pH value, which, in the case of marine water environment and the harsh conditions of the deep sea, needs very exact measurements. To fulfil the huge need on the market the project "AquapHOx" provides an affordable, stable, user-friendly and accurate solution to measure the acidification of our oceans and further critical parameters.

AquapHOx is a new optical sensor technology that: a) enables, for the first time, pH measurement under harsh deep-sea conditions; b) exceeds the state-of-the-art in terms of O2 measurement by offering worldwide unique instruments for O2 trace gas and very fast O2 measurements and c) provides a complete measurement instrumentation based on a single platform technology.

Aim of PyroScience within this project was to commercialise the AquapHOx technology for O2-, pH- and temperature-sensors. During the project three product families were developed. The “AquapHOx Logger” and the “AquapHOx Transmitter” are aimed for demanding applications like marine R&D or climate change research. Both product families are available as deep sea versions (down to 4000m) as well as shallow water versions (down to 200m).

The third product family “AquapHOx OEM” is optimized for low cost and high production volumes .It is aimed for industrial applications in the currently booming market of aquaculture, but also markets of bioprocessing, life sciences, water quality, or even medical applications will be interesting.
Instrumentation.
An OEM module “AquapHOx OEM” was realized for measurements in underwater systems allowing an efficient production setup and development of a sensor for end user including pressure stable housing to offer additional interface communication interfaces. The firmware has been designed to be universally compatible to O2-, pH- and temperature-sensors.
The production process was optimized regarding supply routes and efficient assembly procedures. The final assembly was further optimized to speed up the process and enhance quality. An automatic setup for fast parallel factory trimming, evaluation offering full traceability was designed and build.
The product family “AquapHOx Logger” is a stand-alone logger with integrated rechargeable battery allowing long-term deployments for up to 2 years. The product family “AquapHOx Transmitter” offers analog outputs and a Modbus interface for easy integration into other systems. To increase the usability of the devices, several accessories were developed.
A user-friendly software called “Pyro Workbench” was developed for the implementation of Read-out and configuration of the AquapHOx Logger modules. A powerful module “Data Inspector” was implemented in this software, allowing comfortable post-processing of acquired data.
During the final period of the project the performance of the AquapHOx technology was successfully demonstrated in several cooperations with external partners.

Sensor Heads.
Special versions of the optical O2 sensors where developed and optimized regarding highest possible response times combined with optimized user-friendliness. This new sensor type was characterized e.g. regarding resolution, accuracy, response time.
Another special version of optical O2 sensors was developed offering very high measurement resolution at very low O2 levels, also called “trace O2 sensors”. This new sensor type was characterized e.g. regarding resolution, accuracy.
The optical pH sensor technology was adapted and optimized for marine and biotechnical applications. The sensors were characterized with regard to dynamic range, response time, drift, storage stability and accuracy. Additionally, cross-sensitivities to temperature and salinity were determined. A straightforward user calibration procedure was established, and implemented in the software Pyro Workbench.
A calibration measurement facility was constructed allowing fully automated sensor calibrations which can be repeated periodically to conduct stability tests. In addition, temperature calibration is included. The production of the sensor materials was improved and simplified for mass production. A stringent quality control procedure was established assuring constant quality for each produced sensor head.

Commercialization Strategy.
In the beginning of 2021 all three AquapHOx families were successfully introduced into the market. A widespread commercialization strategy was developed and executed, covering several different marketing approaches.
PyroScience utilized its existing network to many key-players e.g. in marine R&D but also in the biotech industrial sector. Already during the early development close contact was kept with appropriate beta-testers. Several launching customers gained first experience in the “real world” with the AquapHOx technology.
The website was completely redesigned with response design and optimized for marketing purposes. The AquapHOx products are presented in high quality renderings and in a explainer movie. Further, a completely new strategy was developed for maximum impact of newsletter activities.
The AquapHOx technology was actively promoted at conference exhibitions, industrial trade fairs and advertisements in magazines. In cooperation with professional marketing companies focused on the scientific market, potential customer bases were addressed.

In the beginning of 2021 all three AquapHOx families were successfully introduced into the market.
The AquapHOx technology is in several aspects beyond the state of the art. It enables pH measurement in harsh marine environments, and it exceeds the state-of-the-art in terms of O2 measurement by offering worldwide unique instruments for O2 trace gas and very fast O2 measurements and it provides a complete single platform solution, which enables large-scale, long-term stable, highly accurate measurements of pH and O2.
AquapHOx brings benefits to the environment by allowing to expand the knowledge about the oceans’ acidification, and at the same to our society by enabling the measurement of critical parameters in water quality for diverse applications such as aquaculture and freshwater. However, the same technology shows to be very promising also in the huge application area of biotechnology.

The potential impact of the project can be divided into four main factors:

Political factors.
Providing new sensors and instrumentation for marine R&D focused on the protection of climate and environment to stop oceans’ acidification and changing seawater temperature.

Economic factors.
Seas and oceans ecosystem, but also the biotech and water quality sector are drivers for the European economy, e.g. seabed mining, aquaculture, marine biotechnology, water quality surveillance, general biotechnology. The AquapHOx technology will be an additional factor to further push the already strong position of European companies in these application ares.

Socio-cultural factors.
Enabling a broad knowledge on the deep sea for protection of environment, for rising environmental awareness, to guarantee future sources of nutrition and allowing sustainable coastal tourism.

Technological & scientific factors.
Analysing the phenomenon of climate change and understanding the role of the ocean ecosystem.
AquapHOx Instruments