Researchers are developing a device that will provide continuous information on water quality
Monitor water quality. Constantly and without the need to travel to the site for samples. This should be made possible by the new device, which will be prepared by a group led by Jaromír Hubálek from FEKT and CEITEC BUT as part of the Czech-Austrian WaterMon project. The research, which is supported by the European Regional Development Fund and is in cooperation with the University of Krems in Austria, should bring technologies that are cheaper than existing ones within two years. They will be able to detect, for example, oil, nitrates or E.coli bacteria in water with the required level of accuracy.
Innovative technologies for water monitoring are to be introduced in a new project, on which researchers led by Jaromír Hubálek began working this January. "Our task is to create a device that monitors water quality and its microbiological parameters," Hubálek explained.
According to him, although authorities have these technologies at their disposal, they have to solve several problems "They have to take samples on site or operate floating laboratories, which are usually very expensive. Moreover, it happens that people steal them. That is why they are not used as much. So they build small houses on the banks of the streams that have the laboratory built in. But this is even more expensive," pointed out Jaromír Hubálek.
The requirement was therefore to create a device that would be accurate enough, but at the same time at an affordable price. Another parameter is that the technology must be able to send data automatically. "The basin collects data once a month from certain points on the streams. Hygiene only monitors reservoirs with drinking water or water in which people bathe," Hubálek said.
The device, which the experts are expected to introduce in the new project, should send data to the server every day. It would alert staff to the problem when limits are exceeded. "Right now, employees have to drive to the river or lake. But our floating unit could measure every day and wirelessly transmit data that workers can access. Theoretically, in the future, it could divide the data into public and non-public ones," Hubálek described. At the same time, however, he added that even this device cannot work completely without human intervention. "It needs servicing. So once a month, employees would have to stop by to change some things. For example, reagent solutions for measurements," he pointed out.
The Czech team is collaborating on the innovative device with a team from the Danube University in Krems. "We also have two strategic partners. The Department of Water Management on the Austrian side and the South Moravian Hygiene Station," said Jaromír Hubálek. These partners are defining more precise requirements for what data the instrument should be able to collect. "We will also discuss with them the sensitivity of the data so that the data supplied to them will have some meaning," Hubálek added.
Scientists from both countries plan to equip the device with optical sensors and one electrochemical sensor. It should then measure, for example, biochemical oxidants, organic substances or oil film. "It will also have fluorescence sensing, which will alert us to some inorganic substances that we don't want in the water," said Jaromír Hubálek. In addition, the device will check whether the water doesn’t accidentally contain nitrates, phosphorus, ammonia or uranium. "We will also check whether E.coli bacteria are present," Hubálek pointed out.
It was important to negotiate the locations where the measurements would take place right at the beginning of the project. On the Czech side, the location on the Želetavka River, from which water flows into the Vranov Dam, was finally chosen. "We also had to plan the location to know what the minimum and maximum flow is there," Hubálek explained.
The project is scheduled to be completed by the end of 2022, but as Jaromír Hubálek pointed out, experts will have to build the device itself sooner. So that they can measure it for some time and verify its functionality.