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Final Report Summary - INTELLIREMED (Low-cost remote monitoring and control system for in-situ remediation of soil)

Executive Summary:
Bioremediation is an emerging new technology within the field of soil and ground water remediation and due to new technological developments is getting higher importance year by year. Since bioremediation can offer effective, alternative, so called “green” solution to clean up the contaminated sites from different pollutants like hydrocarbons, aromatic hydrocarbons and other volatile organic compounds the usage of this technology is favoured by the authorities as well.
The aim of the INTELLIREMED project is to develop a novel automatic, self-sustained groundwater monitoring and treatment system which gives powerful tool for the users to analyze their samples in real-time and make actions remotely based on the sensor network’s results. The project incorporates two big innovations: a biosensor unit which is able to measure the exact quantity of a desired contaminant and a smart and self-sustained wireless sensor network by powering microbial fuel cells (MFC). The biosensor unit is a mobile handheld device providing in situ, quantitative measurements of the BTEX contamination complex. Beside these units a remote controlled treatment unit performs the remediation of the field and a remote server unit collects the data and manages the information of the different sites by using smart graphical user interface.
The need of the qualitative measurement of the different contaminants in the remediation industry has been turned up long ago. However yet there are only few examples exist on the market and they are mostly based upon costly chemical sensors. The use of biosensors in the remediation technology is a completely novel idea enabling the monitoring of the desired contaminants in quantitative, cost friendly way. The above mentioned biosensor unit, the self-sustain monitoring network and the intelligent control and treatment unit are keys to a new successful story in the remediation industry.

Project Context and Objectives:
The INTELLIREMED was a two years long EU funded project in the FP7 framework. It started on the 1st December 2013 and ended on the 30th November 2015. The main objective of the project was to develop an autonomous, remote controlled bioremediation monitoring and treatment system that is capable to measure the ground water parameters continuously and to determinate the exact concentration level of the presence contaminant by using mobile biosensor device. All of the measured data are transmitted wireless to a remote server unit for further analysis.
In order to achieve these overall goals the following scientific and technological objectives were identified in project period:
Development of laboratory scale single cell membrane-less MFC systems by the application of natural raw materials;
• To study the MFC capacity in case of various reactor configurations focusing on the maximization of the electrical power generation.
• To develop a biosensor unit for aromatic hydrocarbons (BTEX) that is capable to detect 20 μM of BTEX with 95% selectivity;
• To develop a wireless sensor network system including the biosensor and 3 other commercially available sensors;
• To determine a correlation between the data provided by the biosensors and the microbial activity in the soil and to develop an effective control system for the remediation process.
• To integrate the membrane-less MFC with the sensor system in order to obtain an autonomous prototype;
• To validate and test the INTELLIREMED system under laboratory and pilot scale conditions;

Project Results:
The main objective of the INTELLIREMED project was to develop a complex ground water monitoring and bioremediation system by utilizing the latest technological novelties from the IT and biotechnology. The system is able to detect the exact concentration level of the desired contamination by using a mobile biosensor unit. The information flow is completely wireless, the units are self-sustained and remotely accessible from a smart and responsive client platform.
The prototype builds up from four main blocks: (1) the wireless sensor network (WSN) is the ultra-low power consuming monitoring part of the system. This unit is installed permanently in the ground and includes different sensors (electrical conductivity - EC, pH, temperature, dissolved oxygen - DO, redox potential - ORP) in order to monitor the changes of the parameters in the ground water. The measured data are sent wireless using ZigBee protocol and the complete WSN network is controlled by the (2) treatment unit (TU). The WSN can either be powered by unique microbial fuel cells (MFC) that are self-sustained energy cells based on special bacteria activity or by simple rechargeable batteries. Both solution is working. The crucial parts of this development were:
• Proper selection of the common sensors: after several trials we found that the selected sensors unfortunately are not capable to perform long term measurements in ground water due to the extreme high contamination level.
• The optimizing of the power consumption of the nodes. This was solved properly after several iterations.
• Establishing the proper communication with the receiver.
• Constructing the final MFC design that are capable to drive the sensor nodes long term (> 1 month). Based on the results with the MFC and the rechargeable batteries however the final design of the MFC was suitable for the WSN using batteries provided longer lifetime and reduced operation cost.
The TU is responsible for the controlling of the on-site equipment and the treatment of the ground and ground water. It includes a central control PLC unit that controls the treatment process – pumps, mixers and TU sensors - receives the data coming from the WSN and sends them to (3) the remote server unit (RSU) and also alarms the operator in case of any unauthorized access. The TU operates from solar panels and has the responsibility to pump the ground water up and to add required volume of nutrition based on the feedback of a flow and conductivity meter. The critical part of this development was to solve the proper data parsing in order to avoid any data loss during the communication. After some debugging iterations it was solved properly.
The RSU receives the data coming from the TU and (4) the mobile biosensor on 3G mobile network. This unit has a large database based on MySQL platform and two user interface: one for the remote access to the TU and one for the client side user interface. That means the RSU is able to change the major parameters of the TU and in case of emergency situations the complete system can be shut down remotely. The client side user interface is a responsive, web application utilizing the Wordpress engine. On this interface the operator can manage the information about treatment sites and also have access to the measured data that can be exported in .csv file for further analysis.
The biosensor unit is a mobile part of the system independent from the TU and the WSN. This unit is based on a special chip called biosensor that can detect the exact concentration level of the BTEX complex in the ground water providing valuable information about the effectivity of the treatment. The crucial point in the development was the improvement of the limit of detection (LOD). By the end of the development the sensitivity of the sensor was 0.1 µM that satisfied the end-user requirements.
During the project lifetime all of these modules were implemented successfully and the entire system was tested on the field in Hungary. Before the final field test period several system performance tests were taken on the field where the parameters of the system were optimized. At the end of the project a three month long treatment process were made on the field and the parameters were monitored by the WSN, biosensor and standard analytical methods. Unfortunately the contamination level of the field was too high and the treatment process was too short to obtain significant changes.

Potential Impact:
The bioremediation market is difficult to define because discovery of contaminated sites is ongoing and securing funding to remediate them is a priority. In the geographical analysis, North America closely followed by Europe is the largest market for bioremediation technologies and services owing to the stringent environmental protection policies and regulations as well as oil spill accidents. The competitiveness of European technologies could strengthen the European position in the global market for remediation technologies The EU is making rapid progress towards establishing Europe-wide remediation standards; however, most European countries have established and follow their own set of regulations.
Although in situ bioremediation methods are currently available in the EU, none represent a complete solution with greater cost-performance parameters. The INTELLIREMED system will reduce costs while increasing quality, thereby increasing competitiveness and profitability of consortium SMEs.
The number of contaminated sites is estimated to be 3.5 million, with more than half a million seriously contaminated sites in need of urgent remediation. It is also estimated that the number of contaminated sites requiring remediation will increase 50% by 2050. This indicates that the turn-over of the soil remediation industry that now in EU-27 amounts to €5.2 billion is likely to increase significantly.
Between 2005 and 2011 2.250 billion € has been spent in the EU to remediate industrial sites, and about 2 billion € for the rehabilitation of urban areas from Structural Funds. In the EU, the estimated total annual cost spent on rehabilitation and reversing soil contamination effects (including insurance, secondary health effects, loss of useful cultivating area and other economic and environmental effects) is €17.3 billion.
According to the SMEs’ conclusion at the final meeting INTELLIREMED system could be a useful tool for European bioremediation. With more experiences on site remediation a quicker development of innovative and effective technologies could be achieved while simultaneously minimising duplication of efforts, to the benefit of all involved parties. It is also a huge advantage of INTELLIREMED that no other product exists with the offered functions and features thus our system is unique. The key features of the INTELLIREMED system are:
-Novel and flexible biosensor unit that can detect the concentration level of the BTEX contamination down to 0.1 µM in ground water samples
-Unique responsive and easy to use remote control and monitoring interface that allows us to follow the measurement results real-time from the office and to intervene in the treatment process anytime.
-Smart wireless sensor nodes that are capable to measure the general physical and chemical parameters of the ground water like, pH, temperature, electrical conductivity to give feedback about the results of the ground water treatment.
-New, self-sustained treatment unit, that is able to circulate the ground water and provide additional nutrition for the local bacteria flora and thus enhancing the effectivity of the bioremediation.

Dissemination activities played a crucial role during the time of the project. The rules for dissemination set by Article II.30.3 of the Grant Agreement and the Consortium Agreement were respected during the project. Based on the key aspects of dissemination established the consortium has completed a large number of promotion activities by month 24. The coordinator in cooperation with the Exploitation Manager ensured that the Management Board has all information necessary on time for decision making as indicated by the terms and condition. These were discussed at the project meetings and/or via email correspondence. Dissemination activities and tools:
-Creation of the INTELLIREMED “brand” image to maintain a unified appearance that helps the easy identification of the project for all the interested stakeholders
-Project logo: Partners have selected a project logo that is widely used in documents promoting the project and its results
-Project flyer and poster: PDF flyer for paper format public circulation and also for e-mailing has been created along with an informative poster that can be used in conferences and other events. Both materials contain the details of the partnerships, the description of the problem to be solved and the innovative results developed. Partner can download the printable formats of flyer and poster from the project website for their convenient use at dissemination occasions. Project partners have translated the leaflet into their languages to enhance the impact of the project and product information at a national level
-Project website: The most important dissemination channel is the project website - as it grants an efficient and effective information and communication system for the consortium members and the stakeholders. About the creation, structure and content of the website, more details are available in D8.1. The website contains all the necessary information to provide a complete picture about INTELLIREMED
-Newsletter: will be used as means of public presentation. The issues usually give an overview of the general objectives and development progress and includes a brief introduction of the consortium members with links to their websites and logos. The first newsletter also provides the public with information on a selection of upcoming relevant events and a summary of the latest market forecasts and industry news. By the end of the project, seven different newsletters were made by the consortium.
-Conferences and events: Project partners participated on many project related conferences and fairs in order to disseminate the project.

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