Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS


OX-SIHA Report Summary

Project ID: 673662

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - OX-SIHA (INTEGRAL WATER SANITATION SYSTEM)

Reporting period: 2015-07-01 to 2016-06-30

Summary of the context and overall objectives of the project

Water, the blue gold of the 21st century, is essential for our daily life. The quality of water, whether used for drinking, domestic purposes, food production or recreational purposes has an important impact on health. Water of poor quality can cause disease outbreaks at different scales: 80% of gastrointestinal infectious and parasitic diseases and a third of the deaths caused by those infections are due to the use and consumption of contaminated water.
At industrial level, water is used in many different facilities, in refrigeration towers of large buildings, in food industry, farms, aquaculture, etc. and waterborne bacteria are an extremely dangerous source of infection. Bacteria can be transmitted to humans directly (drinking water, water vapour) or indirectly (in cattle industry, for example, water is used for animal consumption and for cleaning, and diseases can be transmitted between animals and humans, by consuming contaminated foodstuffs or through contact with infected animals).
Many different treatments (physical, chemical and biological) are used to remove pathogen microorganisms from water, however it has been demonstrated that there is a lack in the performance of these methods, which supposes important economic losses to companies and administrations, and even human deaths.

According to the ECDC (European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control), 5,856 Legionella cases and 419 death people were reported by 30 countries in 2012. Regarding public health sector, for instance, in Basildon Hospital (UK) two patients died from Legionnaires' disease and the hospital had to assume 440,000 € in fines and costs.
- The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) and the ECDC reported in 2012 the campylobacteriosis as the most food transmitted disease in Europe, with about 200,000 cases in humans every year. The cost of campylobacteriosis to public health and productivity loss in the EU is estimated by EFSA in 2.4 billion € a year.
- Salmonellosis with 91,034 reported cases in 2012 ranks second in EFSA’s records, with estimated losses over 3 billion € a year. At industrial level, many cases suppose bankrupt for companies. For example, Sunland Inc. (the largest organic peanut butter production plant of New Mexico) suffered a Salmonella outbreak in September 2012 and the Food and Drug Administration suspended the company to produce and distribute. In 2013, Sunland had to close.
- According to EFSA’s reports,1,640 listeriosis cases in humans were reported in the European Union in 2012, with a mortality rate of 17.8%.
- 5,670 E. coli infections in humans were reported in the European Union in 2012. In summer 2011, an E. coli outbreak in Germany caused 32 deaths and more than 3,000 infections. At first, Spanish cucumber was believed to be the cause but investigations concluded that fenugreek sprouts cultivated in Germany were the source. Spanish vegetable exports were blocked with losses that accounted 200M € per week.

Nowadays, the European legislation establishes microbiological limits for water consumption regarding some bacteria (i.e. Legionella pneumophila and E. coli). However, as listed above, controlling of bacteria is not enough to ensure water quality. Studies have demonstrated that not only bacteria can cause diseases, because FREE-LIVING AMOEBAE (FLA) can also be found in water, a protozoa capable of colonising water networks that represent a terrible health risk (Marciano-Cabral and Cabral 2003).

Some amoebae are particularly pathogenic whilst other can host pathogenic bacteria. Bacteria inside the amoeba start their replication and in the lysis, lots of strong bacteria are released continuing and starting the cycle again. Besides, in some occasions, instead of form one vacuole, various small vesicles are formed inside the protozoan and after the lease of the protozoan, not only bacteria but also unbroken vesicles full of bacteria are released. These loaded vesicles are as well very resistant to biocides and physical treatments, being able to start the cycle again inside other amoebae.

In this light, using amoebae as their main natural reservoir, bacteria can become more virulent and increase their resistance to common treatments. That is, the complex bacteria-amoebae association is the principal risk factor in the resilience of pathogenic bacteria. Relevant pathogens such as Legionella, E. coli, Campylobacter or Listeria, make use of amoebae as resistance mechanisms (Greub and Raoult, 2004), shifting these amoebae to potentially pathogenic.
In water, Acanthamoeba is the most present amoeba, being over 90% of all amoebae present in water (Thomas and Ashbolt, 2011) and it has a great capacity to host a large variety pathogen microorganisms, such as virus (Adenovirus, Poliovirus, Enterovirus, etc.), bacteria (Campylobacter, E. coli, Legionella, Listeria, Staphylococcus, Salmonella, etc.) and fungi (Cryptococcus, Blastomyces, Sporothrix, Histoplasma, etc.) (Khan, 2009; Snelling, 2006).
To date, water control strategies are effective against bacteria, fungi, viruses and algae. Nevertheless, the existing products for water treatment are not effective against amoebae. At present, the survival of amoebae to usual treatments and the lease of bacteria hold within is tried to be minimised by extra chemical treatments at very high doses, which end up in high expenses and are not recommended from an environmental point of view.
Taking into account this context, the general objective of the project is to commercialise an efficient biocidal system, environmentally friendly and economically feasible that guarantees the total disinfection of water, that is, elimination of bacteria, fungi, virus, algae as well as protozoa and the bacteria that they may host inside. The system will be commercialised as a water sanitation pack (OX-SIHA) comprised of the following modules:

- Unique and first world in-situ sampling system to detect Acanthamoeba in water environments by the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) method.
- A biocidal formulate, environmentally friendly and affordable capable of eliminating all pathogenic microorganisms (including Acanthamoeba and bacteria contained within) in any kind of waters.
- For those sectors that discharge to the environment, the formula will feature a joint biocidal-catalyst system to ensure a rapid decomposition of the biocidal substance that may remain in the water, permitting a total absence of active matters and toxic by-products, making the formula environmentally friendly.
- An automatic remote water management system that will integrate existing stand-alone measurement devices for physical-chemical parameters (temperature, pH, conductivity, redox potential, turbidity, flow, etc.) with the state-of-the-art Acanthamoeba detection system and biocidal dosage system. The system will be controlled by a software that will manage data processing, statistics analysis, product dosage and alerts.
- An accurate biocidal dosage system, applying the biocidal for water treatment only when necessary and at optimum amount.

Work performed from the beginning of the project to the end of the period covered by the report and main results achieved so far

From the beginning to the end of the period covered by this report, the activities included in the Work Package 1 (Refinement of the biocidal formula, modules and assembly of the system) have been concluded.
WORK PACKAGE 1: Refinement of the biocidal formula, modules and assembly of the system
-Task 1.1: Refinement of the biocidal formula
The biocidal formula should be environmentally friendly, innocuous for human beings and economically feasible. It has to ensure elimination of bacteria, fungi, viruses, algae and specially Acanthamoeba, capable of hosting pathogenic microorganisms. Once some biocidal formula were developed (regarding technical active ingredients and stabilization core) were tested in our own pilot plant. Later on, as it was planned, the efficacy of the most representative biocidal formula against Acanthamoeba was tested in La Laguna University (Spain), expert in Acanthamoeba studies.
The tests reveals that OX-CTA has achieved a successfully product against Acanthamoeba and others like E. coli, Enterococcus and Clostridium.
-Task 1.2: Fine-tune of the detection, dosage and catalyser modules
Continuous water sampling system
Regarding water sampling method, up to this moment, in order to perform an amoeba analysis in water, it was necessary to collect a great amount of water (at least 100 litters) and transport it to the laboratory. It is necessary to notice that this sampling process was not representative, because usually the water sample was taken in one determined moment. So that, it was just representative of the reality of that moment. On the other hand, in the laboratory it was necessary to carry out exhaustive filter processes, in order to retain the possible present amoeba.
In order to solve those disadvantages, this project considers optimizing an in situ sampling system with specific filter processes to retain amoeba. The development in this OX-SIHA project has been to adapt the filter system to both the morphology and size characteristics of the amoeba species of interest. Taking into account all the compiled information, in order to achieve a sampling system capable of retaining Acanthamoeba in a representative way it was necessary:
-To develop an in situ device to install it in the water flow that has to be controlled. The device has to be able to take continuous and periodic water samples in an automatic way, in order to assure that water samples are representative.
-The device has to incorporate a filtration method able to retain amoeba particles
-The sampling system has to be portable in order to use it to monitor more than one facility (of course, one later than other).
Having in mind all of those premises, the sampling system prototype was defined. Then, the materials for sampling system prototype were acquired in regular suppliers of OX-CTA according to the expected budget and, once the materials were received in OX-CTA facilities, the prototype was assembled.
Detection system
It is worthy to mention that is one of the most confidential aspects. A portable detection system was developed and successfully tested. The sensibility of the complete detection method is higher than conventional equipments.
Dosage system
The biocidal dosage system should be capable of applying the biocidal formula for water treatment in an accurate way in order to use just the quantity of biocidal product that is really needed. A biocidal dosage system for water treatment consists of the equipment capable of injecting a liquid disinfectant product in the pipe where water flows or in the tank where it is accumulated. Having in mind chemical characteristics of biocidal products, flow water and other technical key parameters of water distribution facilities and other specific requirements of OX-SIHA project, three main dosage systems have been defined.
Catalyser module
The catalyst system is linked with the biocide dosage by the Software control System. This means that only when is needed (for example, when treated water is going to be poured on the environment), the catalysis system will be introduced in order to accelerate the degradation of biocidal product before the discharge of water. The study of the results obtained revealed that there were two most suitable catalysts systems to be chosen according to OX-SIHA necessities. The election will depend on the customer´s preference.
-Task 1.3: Software of remote control and management
The control and monitoring system is based primarily on a software capable of receiving and centralizing the microbiologic and physical-chemical parameters, in order to do the data processing, provide statistical analysis, manage warnings and perform appropriate actions. The core part is the control software, which is a web platform located in the cloud. It receives, centralizes and processes not only the information which is received automatically from the equipments in the clients, but also the data entered by the OX-CTA laboratory or by the technicians who are working in the facilities.
-Task 1.4: Integration of the modules
The information is centralized in a web platform, in which all the OX-SIHA information is collected. On this web it is received not only the information that is sent automatically by the devices located in the clients, but also the information introduced by the OX-CTA staff, with data from the water facilities or from the laboratories. The OX-CTA staff will be also in charge of maintaining all the relevant data for the system or the clients (technical parameters, users, access privileges, facilities, parameters in each facility, risk, etc.).

On the other hand, from the beginning to the end of the period covered by this report, the activities included in the Work Package 2 (Testing in small-medium size clients) and Work Package 3 (Testing in large size clients) have started, but at this moment they have not been concluded.
WORK PACKAGE 2: Testing in small-medium size clients
-Task 2.1: Implementation of the modules
This task has been carried out in the two clients selected for this work package. Both of them are small-medium size clients, one is related to industrial area and the other is related to animal production.
In both cases, the first part of the implementation of the modules was carried out by the technical team of OX-CTA, who visited the facilities and decided which equipments were necessary to install in each case.
First of all, it was implemented the sampling module, in order to collect samples of water in a representative way. Later on, the use of the detection system was able to demonstrate the presence of Acanthamoeba in the water of both clients.
In this moment, it was implemented the dosing module and the remote control and management system.
-Task 2.2: Training of operators
First of all, the expert team of OX-CTA involved in the project explained to the technical team of OX-CTA their knowledge about OX-SIHA system. The training has included a theoretical part (management of equipments, significant of results, importance of each parameter, analysis of data, etc.), but also a practical part (corrective measures in case of certain alarms, calibration of equipments, etc.). Later on, since the implementation process started, technical team of OX-CTA has started the training of operators of both facilities where the OX-SIHA system is being tested.
-Task 2.3: Technical feasibility assessment
Up to this moment we have concluded that sampling module and detection module are perfectly adapted to small-medium size clients. In regard with sampling module, filters are working well and the final sample is perfectly suitable to be processes by the detection module.
-Task 2.4: Assessment of the commercialization model
This task has not started yet (according to the work plan it will start on October 2016), during the final part of the previous task.

WORK PACKAGE 3: Testing in large size clients
-Task 3.1: Implementation of the OX-SIHA programme
This task has been carried out in two clients. One of them is related to industrial area and the other is related to food production area. First of all, it was implemented the sampling module and at this moment, it was implemented the dosing module (in order to dose the biocidal formula) and the remote control and management system. Technical team of OX-CTA control everything thanks to the platform in a remote way, but at least once a week, they go to the facilities in order to cross check in situ the measures. Due to the magnitude of those clients, during the first month, the technical team of OX-CTA visited the facilities 3-4 times a week, because the implementation process was very laborious and it was necessary to replant the integration of some equipment.
-Task 3.2: Training of operators
Since the implementation process started, technical team of OX-CTA has started the training of operators of both facilities. The training has included a theoretical part (management of equipments, significant of results, importance of each parameter, analysis of data, etc.), but also a practical part.
-Task 3.3: Technical feasibility assessment
This task has just started and results are not obtained yet. Up to this moment, we have just determined the characteristics of technical feasibility to study during the task.
-Task 3.4: Assessment of the commercialization model
This task has not started yet (according to the work plan it will start on December 2016), during the final part of the previous task.
Regarding the Work Package 4 (Industrialization of the product), according to the work plan it should not have started yet. Nevertheless, thanks to the service of coaching offered by European Commission and EASME, we recently started the first session with a specialised person in this issue. This coaching session gave us the opportunity of having an overview of the expected industrialization process. Those months we are preparing the list of megablocks of each module in order to address the industrialization of each module in an optimal way. In each case we are describing the pieces of each megablock, the differential issue that we should protect and the resources necessary to produce it. Later on we will define de assembly process and we will contact with the coach in order to revise everything in a new coaching session. So that, we can affirm that, in order to avoid future problems with this work package (which is one of our weak point), we are working on it with the expert coach since some time ago.
Work Package 5 (Dissemination and exploitation) will finish at the end on the project, but from the beginning to the end of the period covered by this report, the following tasks have been started:
-Task 5.1: Project website
The project website is a very important tool of the Dissemination Plan of OX-SIHA project. It has been developed as a dynamic website, so that, its content will be actualized as the project is progressing. The website is available at its URL:
-Task 5.2: Dissemination of the product through specific channels
We have developed the Dissemination Plan of the project. It is important to mention that up to this moment, all the planned activities have been carried out with success: internal speech and formation of the OX-CTA team; web releases in the Grupo OX website; periodic internal emails with information about the main milestones of the protect; administration staff training; roll out of the OX-SIHA website; roll out of the twitter account; laboratory staff training; attendance of trade fairs (VIV MEA 2016, etc.) and production/warehouse personal training.
-Task 5.3: Meeting with potential clients
During the meeting with our clients who are potential clients of OX-SIHA system, we have been creating a great expectative without telling any confidential data. So that, when the product is ready to go to the market, clients will be really keen on it.
Finally, the Work Package 6 (Management) will finish at the end on the project, but from the beginning to the end of the period covered by this report, the following tasks have been started:
-Task 6.1: Project technical management
We have elaborated the Project Management Handbook in order to standardise the project basis and structure and also the project management and reporting. The Project Management Handbook is an excellent tool in order to control the documents and different steps of the project.
-Task 6.2: Internal meetings
According to the work plan, we have internal meetings with a bimonthly regularity. Nevertheless, when it is necessary, a monthly meeting is organized
-Task 6.3: Meetings with the European Commission
Maria Somolinos (technical responsible of the project) and Ana Bernad (executive manager of OX-CTA) attended the SME-Instrument Phase 2 Welcome Day in Brussels on 30 September 2015. They met the project officer and they participated in all the sessions. The meeting was very interesting and profitable for the project and also for OX-CTA.
On the other hand, on February 2016 we received the visit of the project officer (Mr. Marco Rubinato) in our headquarters. He explained us some EASME Instruments and Management Issues and we explained him the project and the main results obtained. Later on we showed him the prototypes, etc. and we solved some administrative doubts.

Progress beyond the state of the art and expected potential impact (including the socio-economic impact and the wider societal implications of the project so far)

OX-CTA has developed a worldwide innovative prototype in water consumption sector, that mean a relevant leap in the sector, therefore a technical differentiation in the market and of course a competitive advantage against competitors that will be appreciated.

State of the art. Sampling at a particular time, no continuous sampling. Commercial in-situ equipment that detect bacteria and physical-chemical features. Need external laboratories to analyse the existence of amoeba.
Progress of OX-SIHA. Continuous sampling, in situ equipment capable of detecting Acanthamoeba, bacteria and physical-chemical features. Unprecedented in real time system

Biocidal formulation
State of the art. Chlorine, Chlorine dioxide, Sodium Bromide, Sodium Hypochlorite and Hydroxide Peroxide are not effective against amoebae and grown bacteria inside amoebae.Not developed for particular sectors
Progress of OX-SIHA. Effective against Acanthamoeba. Effective against virulent bacteria. Effective against virulent vesicles full of virulent bacteria. Environmentally friendly biocidal solution (Catalyser). Universal magisterial formulation for any sector where water is demanded (Animal Health, Aquaculture, Energy sector, Food industry, Plant Health Defence, Public health)

Monitoring and control of the dosage
State of the art. Commercial solutions capable to detect, determine and deliver improved scale, corrosion and microbiological performance and then deliver the appropriate chemical response.
Progress of OX-SIHA. Thanks to Acanthamoeba detection OX-SIHA uses a new control software that manages Amoeba variable. Therefore, the data analysis is more exhaustive and complete, and will permit extremely accurate dosage that ensure in real time and in a continuously form the healthiness of the water. As a result, the amount biocide used is always in the most exactly proportion.

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