Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS

Real-time water monitoring

EU researchers have created and tested a prototype biosensor that can rapidly detect bacterial pathogens in water.
Real-time water monitoring
Currently, the methods used to monitor water and determine its pollutants are manual, involving laborious sampling and costly laboratory assays carried out by specialists. The EU's Water Framework Directive (WFD) and the Directive on Environmental Quality Standards (EQSD) call for new approaches to monitor industrial process water and wastewater. Thus, there is an urgent need for real-time detection of waterborne pathogens.

With the support of EU funding, the 'On-line industrial water quality analysis system for rapid and accurate detection of pathogens' (AQUALITY) project proposed an online monitoring system that rapidly screens water for microbes.

The novelty of the AQUALITY method lies in the detection of bacteria using microscopic fat bubbles known as liposomes. These liposomes are to be engineered on a particular sensor to release a specific dye on interaction with different bacterial pathogens. The project aimed to develop liposomes specific for Staphylococcus aureus, Escherichia coli and Salmonella species.

After identifying end-user needs, partners designed the architecture of the monitoring device with respect to output data, alarms in detecting bacteria, size and sensitivity. They also selected the most effective liposome and dye combinations.

A prototype device was built and successfully tested in the laboratory, followed by an industrial prototype installed at a water treatment plant in Norway. After three weeks, the AQUALITY prototype compared favourably with traditional water quality monitoring in terms of cost, time and sensitivity.

The AQUALITY system will serve as a replacement to existing methods for water monitoring, providing continuous and reliable screening of drinking water.

Related information


Water monitoring, biosensor, bacterial pathogens, water quality, liposomes
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