Centrifugal Microfluidic Analysis System (CMAS) & the Marie Curie fellow experience

By now, most of the ATWARM fellows have finished their projects, while the remaining, are well on the way to finishing up. As the last fellow to contribute to the ATWARM blog, I think it is a great opportunity to sum up the last three years, from my experience.

There is no doubt that the Marie Curie Fellowships are one of the most prestigious actions for European researchers who wish to spend time in a European country different than their own to develop research skills. The strong competition between motivated and skilled candidates from all over Europe is a huge challenge.

The training objectives and the experience of working in a multi disciplinary research environment (Including language and geographical) has had a major positive influence by reinforcing our professional skill set as researchers, increasing the scope of our competences and individual improving our overall research quality for the next challenges that lie ahead.

The ATWARM Marie Curie Action contributed greatly to the development of our careers on many different levels. First of all, it allowed us to do research abroad at high-quality host institutions such as Queens University, Cranfield University, University of Duisburg-Essen, Dublin City University and TE Laboratories. This exposure increased our knowledge in fields of science that we had previously limited experience. In addition it has added to our personal development, through various work cultures, which in some cases, have been different from the one that we were used to. Although the beginning may have been challenging, the overall experience of living in a new country – Ireland, United Kingdom, Germany or Northern Ireland was invaluable.

An important impact of this fellowship came from disseminating scientific information in terms of methodologies and results. In this context, the Marie Curie ATWARM fellowship has supported our attendance at scientific seminars, conferences and courses around the world significantly. The ATWARM members have had opportunities to attend scientific meetings not only within Europe (Spain, Italy, Portugal, France, Belgium, Germany), but also globally, such as the United States, Australia, China and Japan. This opened many collaborations, some of which are ongoing and facilitating our communication skills with researchers that have similar scientific interest.

Moreover, the structure of the Marie Curie training network has been very attractive not only for fellows, but also for the host institutes, which is an additional advantage of the program. At this point I can only express my hope that all supervisors tend to be satisfied with the performance of the ATWARM fellows in their
research group…and I am sure it has a place.

On a more personal note, I was excited to learn new techniques as well as  meeting and collaborating with European colleagues. My host institute, National Centre for Sensor Research at Dublin City University (Ireland), is a world renowned research center with respect to advanced water technology and development of sensors for environmental applications. The objective of my project was to develop fully functioning, low cost platform for in-situ water quality monitoring. In comparison to traditional water quality analysis, based on laboratory analysis, in-situ measurements generated with portable instruments present a much more scalable model, enabling denser monitoring.

The challenge was to develop inexpensive and reliable device that can be used on site, with the capability to make the resulting data available remotely via web-databases, so that water quality can be monitored independently of location. The vision was to miniaturise processes typically performed in a central clinical lab into small, simple to use devices – so called lab-on-a-chip (LOC) systems. These systems are especially promising for point-of-care applications due to the low reagent consumption, low cost and portability. One main outcome of my work was the development and validation of innovative integrated systems that were designed and developed for quantitative and qualitative analysis of pH, nitrites and turbidity in water samples. A fully integrated, portable, wireless system capable of in-situ reagent-based colorimetric analysis was developed and validated – the Centrifugal Microfluidic Analysis System (CMAS). The stand-alone capabilities of the system, combined with the portability and wireless communication provided the flexibility crucial for on-site water monitoring.

In terms of the ATWARM group, I have to admit I was always looking forward to the meetings and summer schools, as it presented a great opportunity, not only to share scientific knowledge and experience, but also to meet great friends. Although we each came from various backgrounds and cultures, we created a strong sense of friendship. I am convinced that some of the friendships will last much longer than the projects themselves. I would also like to take this opportunity to thank Wilson, Patricia and Ciaran for all of the hard work and outstanding contributions as members of the organizing and managerial committee. I know how much time and energy this project demanded, and we deeply appreciate all of your efforts to make it a great success.

To conclude, the ATWARM project gave us an opportunity to acquire new knowledge in both technical and interpersonal skills. We significantly developed our scientific and personal network, which is considered to be a key factor for future careers. There is no doubt that the establishment of a global researcher community has great power to resolve any scientific and social problem in the future. I think that we all can agree that by complementing and acquiring new skills and knowledge this fellowship support will enhance our carrier and will affirm our position as experienced researchers in our specific fields.

Monika Czugala, Dublin City University.

 

 

 

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A new accurate method for Total Petroleum Hydrocarbon (TPH) analysis

Total Petroleum Hydrocarbons (TPH) is a term used to describe a group of several hundred chemical compounds that originally come from crude oil and are considered the most deleterious for human health and ecosystem. Different methods are being used by laboratories for TPH monitoring, depending on the cost, equipment requirement, number of samples to analyse or simply personal preference reasons. The lack of standardization of analytical methodologies for regulatory purposes makes the comparison of the TPH results between laboratories nearly impossible, undermining the validity of this measurement. Based on current analytical protocols, methods of monitoring the occurrence of TPH in various environmental compartments consist of extraction for isolation and pre-concentration of the target analytes, purification procedures, chromatographic optimization and detection. However, these methods vary greatly in terms of experimental methodology, sensitivity, reliability and cost, depending on the matrix and the technique. In particular, many analytical methods are available for the determination of the target compounds but none applicable for all types of water (waste surface, ground and seawater). In addition, the detection limits of the current methodologies don’t reach the limit concentration of the national legislation. Finally, contradictory results have been reported in inter-laboratory studies and the need of a standardized method still remains a crucial and challenging issue.

The purpose of this study was to develop, optimize and validate a simple fast and precise analytical method for the determination of Total Petroleum Hydrocarbons in waste, surface, ground and seawater with improved detection limits which can be validated to ISO17025 in the range of C9-C40. Analysis of TPH was defined from first principles and different analytical parameters were fully investigated. The proposed method demonstrated satisfactory precision, good recoveries and adequate limits of detection for environmental monitoring. Adoption of the new method by an organization such as Standard Methods for the Examination of Water and Wastewater (SMEWW) or Environment Protection Agency (EPA) is still assessed.

This project was funded by the EC FP7 Marie Curie Programme, ATWARM (Advanced Technologies for Water Resource Management).

Author: Dr Vasilios Samaras, ATWARM fellow at TelLab (www.tellab.ie)

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Novel autonomous sensors for water analysis

Our societies are becoming more and more aware of the importance of water quality and protection. This is also reflected by the EU regulations and directives regarding water and air quality. One important issue that arises with implementation of these standards is the availability and accuracy of the information on the key environmental parameters such as pH, salinity, turbidity, phosphate, nitrate/nitrite, ammonia, oxygen and CO2 concentrations in water. All these can be measured by laboratory analysis after the water samples have been collected and brought in but such methodology is tedious, slow and is simply incapable of covering vast areas of interest. Therefore, a better solution would be to have a network of autonomous sensors that constantly feed the relevant information back to headquarters without the need to drive around sites to collect samples. Such networks of sensors would have the benefit of providing real-time information on multiple sites at the same time allowing monitoring of potential hazardous environmental events and emerging patterns.

Such sensors that could be deployed remotely and function autonomously are not commercially available yet. This is due to the cost of a single device ranging up to 20k euro per sensor. If one breaks down the cost of such a device it appears that the major cost is the sample manipulation devices i.e. pumps and valves. Researchers from Prof. Dermot Diamond’s group at Dublin City University have developed prototype autonomous sensors that thanks to smart engineering cost 2000 euro (first generation of prototypes) and 200 euro for the second generation of sensors. These devices can function for 2 weeks without maintenance. However, the biggest cost and power consumption of these devices is still associated with liquid sample management.1 Therefore, research efforts have been undertaken to develop materials that can solve sample pumping issues.

Attention has been focused on photo-responsive gels. These gels can swell in water and potentially block sample channels but under low power LED light they shrink unblocking the channels allowing the sample to flow.2 Such LEDs can be easily controlled by the sensor’s circuitry but have a low power drain and low cost.3 Therefore, such gels have a potential of being the revolutionary solution to the sensor problems discussed above. Unfortunately, current gel formulations require them to be immersed in hydrochloric acid to function. This seriously limits the application of such gels to systems operating at pH ~ 3.

This issue has been solved by the DCU ATWARM team. The researchers have successfully incorporated a polymeric acid into the structure of the material. In this way the source of acid is internalised and immobilised in the gel. The developed gels no longer require the acidic water environment to operate and their performance has been improved significantly. Such gels have been shown to operate in pH from 3 – 7 and after many shrink/swell cycles and after 2 months of storage.4 Therefore, this material has a potential to revolutionise the way samples are handled in the autonomous sensor platforms allowing mass production of these devices. The importance of this discovery has also been recognised by DCU’s patent team and a patent being filed as a consequence.

Intensified research is taking place at DCU now to further improve the material described and to incorporate it into the working sensor platforms for phosphate detection. New interesting developments are to follow.

Dr Bartosz Ziółkowski, Dublin City University.

Acknowledgement:

This work was performed as part of the EU Framework 7 project “ATWARM” (Marie Curie ITN, No. 238273)”.

References:

1.         B. Ziółkowski, M. Czugala and D. Diamond, Journal of Intelligent Material Systems and Structures, 2012.

2.         S. Sugiura, K. Sumaru, K. Ohi, K. Hiroki, T. Takagi and T. Kanamori, Sensors and Actuators A: Physical, 2007, 140, 176-184.

3.         F. Benito-Lopez, R. Byrne, A. M. Raduta, N. E. Vrana, G. McGuinness and D. Diamond, Lab on a Chip, 2010, 10, 195-201.

4.         B. Ziolkowski, L. Florea, J. Theobald, F. Benito-Lopez and D. Diamond, Soft Matter, 2013, 9, 8754-8760.

 

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Microbial monitoring of water quality; Stepping away from the golden standard: counting faecal indicator bacteria without culturing.

In the recent years, the microbiological quality of both drinking and recreational waters has represented one of the major concerns for governments in the world, in part due to frequent contamination of coastal and inland water resources by waterborne bacterial, viral and protozoan pathogens.  Waterborne pathogens from faecal pollution continue to be major contributors to outbreaks of infectious disease in many areas around the world. One such unfortunate event is the Milwaukee Cryptosporidiosis outbreak from 1993. Over the course of 2 weeks 403,000 residents (out of 880 000) got sick and over 100 have died.  In Ireland the largest documented outbreak occurred in Galway in 2007 and 304 cases were confirmed. To tackle this problem and protect European water supplies EU has implemented several water policies like Water Framework Directive (WFD) from 2000 and the 2006/7/EC Bathing Water Directive. The latter of them sets more stringent water quality standards for microbial assessment and limits the faecal indicators to only 2: Escherichia Coli and Enterococci.

Faecal indicators are an ‘elegant’ approach for microbial water quality assessment. The number and variety of microbial agents that might be present in environmental water is considerable. The routine monitoring for all the possibilities is either impossible or impractical. The laborious techniques and time required to complete most of the tests, rules out their utility as a water quality control feedback tool. The solution to the problem has been the use of indicator bacteria that would be present when faecal material potentially containing pathogens is present. The ideal indicator should: be present only when fecal contamination is present; exhibit the same or greater survival characteristics as the target pathogen for which it is a surrogate; not reproduce outside of the host; and be readily monitored in a timely manner. At the present time no indicators in common use meet all these criteria and the biggest challenge is represented by the time required for the sample analysis. Since all the techniques are culture based, sample results can be obtain only after 18 hours, which is not the ideal when human exposure has to be minimized.

Therefore this is where my PhD research is focused. To overcome the issues of both time and labour required to analyse water samples, a sensing platform capable of in-situ monitoring of Escherichia Coli seems to be the ideal case. Towards achieving this objective, I developed a simple method for E. Coli quantification in water samples.   The method is based on the extraction of a ‘marker enzyme’ from E. Coli bacteria and the detection of this enzyme using optical signals (in this case fluorescence).  These optical signals are obtained using specific substrates, which in the presence of enzyme break down and produce fluorescent molecules. As a consequence the method is an indirect approach since it uses a marker specific to E. Coli for the detection, rather than detecting the bacteria directly. The time required for a sample to be analysed requires less than 1 hour, and as low as 200 CFU can be detected in this time. The main advantage of this methodology is the potential for both automation and on-line monitoring and this is the next step I’m following to achieve.

Reliable monitoring is key for reactive remedial action and risk mitigation. Although sensors for physicochemical parameters of water have proved their usefulness and robustness in the field, biological ones still have to rise to this challenge.

Ciprian Briciu, Dublin City University

 Acknowledgments

The author wishes to acknowledge the financial support of the Marie Curie Initial Training Network funded by the EU Framework 7 People Programme, ATWARM (Advanced Technologies for Water Resource Management, Marie Curie ITN, No. 238273); Brendan Heery for his dedication in this project and for the design and build of several prototypes used in the research, Dr. Tim O’Sullivan and Prof. Fiona Regan.

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Environmental Forensics: From your septic tank to the environment

Septic tanks, or on-site waste-water treatment systems, have become an issue of concern in recent years. This is particularly true in Ireland, where amendment acts have been published, consultations carried out, protests initiated and insults hurled across meeting rooms. Residents had until the 1st of February, 2013 to register their septic tanks. Then, the next stage in the saga will, undoubtedly, commence once inspection plans on the registered (and should I say also unregistered) septic tanks come into force. The consultation programme for these inspection plans has ended, and the start of inspections is likely to be imminent.

According to the Irish Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) the main aim of this national inspection plan is to protect human health and the environment. However, according to the 2011 census, there are at least 440,000 septic tank systems, which serve single houses in Ireland. This means that more than a quarter of Irish households make use of septic tanks as their sewerage system, and the value rises to more than a third when excluding Dublin and two thirds of households when considering rural areas.

The extent of septic tank usage in Ireland makes it clear that it is next to impossible for all septic tanks to be monitored. It will be up to the local authority, that is, the county councils, to carry out these inspections. So, the question that begs to be asked is: How do they prioritise which households to target in order to ensure that those posing the greatest risk are targeted? Their budget is definitely not endless, especially in view of recent budget cuts. Therefore, it is important that they obtain the greatest cost efficiency to protect human health and the environment. Furthermore, septic tank discharges have already had drastic effects throughout our country. They are a major cause of Cryptosporidium outbreaks, which have seen large areas in this country having boil water notices or requiring drinking water to be supplied by tankers.

My PhD research has focussed on using environmental forensics techniques to help identify the passage of septic tank discharges, into water bodies. This is the water we use for our drinking, washing and recreation. Therefore, it is extremely important that any contamination by septic tank discharges does not risk our health or the environment.

But how can we find out if there are septic tank discharges in our water? A variety of chemicals exist within our rivers, lakes and ground waters. These may be used to indicate the presence of these discharges. Specifically, the presence of pharmaceuticals and food additives has been used to identify areas of higher risk. This is because when we all ingest a pharmaceutical or food, such as paracetamol or caffeine, only a small part of it gets used up and broken down in our body. The rest passes on into the sewer system or the septic tank system depending upon the household’s set-up. If the septic tank is not correctly working, these, then, can be detected within the downstream river, lake or groundwater. Furthermore, since they are not generally naturally present within the environment, their presence indicates human contamination.

Therefore, by taking samples from strategic locations within rivers or from bore holes, the sites of greatest contamination from septic tanks could be identified. A septic tank or a number of septic tanks located upstream of the sampling locations are, therefore, those that pose the greatest risk to our health and the environment. Consequently, these households could be initially targeted as part of the national implementation plan, as they are those that are most likely to be incorrectly installed or maintained.

By carrying out such monitoring, samples collected from a river, lake or borehole can allow us to take a trip up the sewer and provide us with information about the state of septic tanks in the vicinity and, hence, avoid unnecessary health and pollution issues.

Acknowledgements:

The author wishes to acknowledge the financial support of the Marie Curie Initial Training Network funded by the EU Framework 7 People Programme, ATWARM (Advanced Technologies for Water Resource Management, Marie Curie ITN, No. 238273); the supervisory panel: Dr Anne Morrissey (DCU), Dr Kieran Nolan (DCU) and Dr Luc Rock (QUB); the industrial partner T.E. Laboratories for their support in site selection and sampling; as well as the Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology (GMIT) for providing access to instrumentation.

Cecilia Fenech

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A sea safari in Dublin Bay

ATWARM fellows were joined by a group of ISGEI (International SmartOcean Graduate Enterprise Initiative) students at the final summer school in Dublin in June 2013.

Delegates had the opportunity to learn from experienced business people, consultants and researchers regarding development and applications of tools and techniques for water quality monitoring. Other aspects of the school discussed how to communicate with the media, careers guidance and job applications, as well as writing grant applications. Students presented their research experiences to-date, and participated in group activities to develop new research proposals.

Many thanks to all who contributed to the success of the Irish summer school – not least to the fantastic organisers and hosts at DCU.

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How to efficiently remove arsenic from groundwater? An assessment of different strategies to produce materials able to adsorb arsenic for human consumption.

Arsenic groundwater contamination is a severe health issue when water is not treated before being used for human consumption or for irrigation. Arsenic is a poisonous compound even when present in dilute concentration as it tends to accumulate in human body. Chronic exposition to arsenic can lead to the development of cancer cells on the skin but also in internal organs like lung or kidney.

Recently the presence of arsenic in rice made headlines as several researcher teams reported high level in rice. Different sources of contamination were identified: arsenic can come from herbicide, water used to grow rice, soil, but more likely fertilizer derived from chicken faeces which were given arsenical derived drugs to promote their growth [1] and [2].

Groundwater contamination is usually the main source of arsenic exposition. This contamination is present in different spots over the world but the most affected area is spread between Bangladesh and India where groundwater levels as high as 1200 ppb can be noticed [3]. In 1993 the World Health Organisation set a maximum level of arsenic at 10 ppb for human consumption.

One of the technologies most widely used to treat arsenic from groundwater is the use of adsorption systems. Adsorption techniques require low energy and low maintenance and are easily accepted as a treatment technique by communities.

The project 3.4 from the FP7 funded project ATWARM looks at the development of different materials able to remove arsenic from groundwater.

During the course of the project different materials were tested:

-          Charred dolomite coated with iron oxides

-          Laterite and acidified laterite

-          3D organised mesoporous silica coated with iron and aluminium oxides

-          Materials produced using commercial coagulant used in the wastewater industry

The capacity of the material to remove arsenic was tested at the laboratory scale in batch or continuous systems. Some results were already presented at different conferences: SEEP 2012, ICheap 2013, Atwarm 2013 or recently published [4] and [5].

The final part of the project is looking at a comparative study of the materials in terms of economics, availability of raw materials and potential for scaling up of the production process of the adsorbents.

The main outputs of the project will be a material synthesis procedure for adsorbents able to remove arsenic and a strategy guide to design groundwater adsorption treatment systems for point of entry application.

Application of the developed materials to remove phosphate is also investigated and first results indicate that its application in reed bed systems could lead to remarkably improved performances.

Yoann Glocheux

yglocheux01@qub.ac.uk

[1]                  Danielle Gould, ‘What’s in Your Rice? A Lot of Arsenic, Says Consumer Reports’, Forbes. [Online]. Available: http://www.forbes.com/sites/daniellegould/2012/10/11/whats-in-your-rice-a-lot-of-arsenic-says-consumer-reports/. [Accessed: 30-Jun-2013].

[2]                  O. of the Commissioner, ‘Consumer Updates – FDA Looks for Answers on Arsenic in Rice’. [Online]. Available: http://www.fda.gov/forconsumers/consumerupdates/ucm319827.htm. [Accessed: 30-Jun-2013].

[3]                  K. Kemper and K. Minnatullah, Towards a More Effective Operational Response – Arsenic Contamination of Groundwater in South and East Asian Countries (2/2). World Bank, Water and Sanitation Program, 2005.

[4]                  Y. Glocheux, Z. Gholamvand, K. Nolan, A. Morrissey, S. J. Allen, and G. M. Walker, ‘Optimisation of 3D-Organized Mesoporous Silica Containing Iron and Aluminium Oxides for the Removal of Arsenic from Groundwater’, Chem. Eng. Trans., vol. 32, 2013.

[5]                  Y. Glocheux, M. M. Pasarín, A. B. Albadarin, S. J. Allen, and G. M. Walker, ‘Removal of arsenic from groundwater by adsorption onto an acidified laterite by-product’, Chem. Eng. J., 2013.

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Bioremediation – Microorganisms and their ability to eat more or less everything

As you may guess from the title, bioremediation is based on the ability of microorganisms to degrade pollutants by carrying out a respiration process, which allows the little bugs to obtain energy for their growth by producing CO2 and by reducing a wide spectra of electron acceptors, from O2 to CO2 itself. It means that microorganisms are virtually able to do it in every condition (with different speed obviously).

The use of the indigenous microbial community to recover a contaminated site it is called natural attenuation. Whenever we try to increase the biodegradation process by changing the environmental conditions (e.g. aerating, adding nutrients etc.) we are talking of biostimulation, whereas if we decide to inoculate microorganisms which we know are able to degrade, because fully studied in the lab, we are using another approach called bioaugmentation.

In any case bioremediation is considered a cheap and environmentally friendly choice because it does not include any strong human intervention, such as adding chemicals to disperse the contaminant or moving the soil to another location to be treated. Apparently with our small superheroes we should be able to clean our poor planet, but unfortunately it is not so easy! As Lovley said in his review in NATURE in 2003 (1) “the promise of bioremediation has yet to be realized”. This is basically because to apply a viable remediation strategy is required a fully understanding of its biodegradation potential. In other words we need to know which microorganisms we have in the site and what they can do, moreover we need to combine this information with chemical and physical data from the site, and then decide which is the most suitable approach.

In this context what I am doing in my project (3.2) is to improve our knowledge of microorganisms ability to degrade pollutant in the environment through the acquisition of information about microbial communities in groundwater contaminated by hydrocarbons, and on the functional genes involved in the biodegradation process. This bulk of information is then processed to find new biomarkers of the biodegradation process and to develop a rapid method, based on molecular biology techniques, to assess the biodegradation potential in contaminated sites.

Alessandra Frau, School of Biological Sciences, Queen’s University Belfast

Lovley D. R. 2003. Cleaning up with Genomics: Applying Molecular Biology to Bioremediation Nature Reviews. Microbiology. 1 (1): 35–44. An evergreen review on the topic!

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New approaches in anaerobic wastewater treatment to reduce on-site energy consumption

Water covers 71% of the Earth’s surface and is essential to humans. Water has been treated along the years and its access has been enhanced through the last century. Different treatments have been used according to the needs of each site, however new approaches are needed in order to reduce the energy consumption on those treatments and make safe drinking water more available to countries where sanitation is still not adequate.

The ATWARM project 2.7 has been looking for a new approach in anaerobic wastewater treatment in temperate climates in order to reduce the energy consumption that aerobic treatment requires. In temperate climates only aerobic wastewater treatment has been considered suitable for the treatment of lower strength wastewater. To be effective, anaerobic treatment requires much higher concentrations of organic substrate and higher temperatures. Robust studies understanding anaerobic treatment are needed to justify the capital investment required for the implementation of such technologies. Researchers have recognised the potential for methane production from sewage under low temperatures; a positive energy balance of the whole treatment process may be attainable.

Two pilot scale anaerobic reactors were designed, constructed and run for two years to further the understanding of improving anaerobic treatment in the UK. Previous researchers have suggested the possibility of increasing methane production through fortification. The optimum approach for fortifying influent wastewater in terms of the proportion of wastewater to be directly treated anaerobically and the degree of primary sludge disintegration required was investigated. Fortification might damage granule sludge due to the increase of solids, therefore understanding anaerobic granule resilience is essential. Especially considering that conditions typical of those experienced in the UK do not permit the growth of granules. Maintaining granule integrity potentially saves water utilities substantial financial costs which would be required to replace inactive granules and washouts. The lack of knowledge found in the literature on granular sludge in terms of integrity, formation and biological activity gave rise to the development of a methodology for studying granule stability under different shear rates. A methane potential test was used as a means of quantifying biological activity. The study will allow the understanding of wastewater composition impact and durability of the sludge with the beneficial outcome being the ability to describe the conditions for lengthening life of granular sludge.

Author: Yolanda Aguilera, Cranfield University.

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Is it possible to monitor gasoline contaminated groundwater fast and cheap?

Groundwater can be contaminated when e.g. gasoline tanks leak. The analysis for gasoline related compounds in groundwater is generally done on lab using US EPA methods (8260b and 8021b, 8260b). Due to sampling and lab analysis, groundwater monitoring is time consuming and expensive. It is very important to develop methods to fast on field monitor before lab analysis. Although the technologies developed for rapid on-site analysis of gasoline contaminated groundwater exist in commercial market, they still face the technical limitation to distinguish the gasoline from complex matrices.  

The project 3.1 “Fast on-site monitoring of gasoline-related compounds at contaminated sites using differential mobility spectrometry”, which is one part of ATWARM(Advanced Technologies for Water Resource Management) funded by the EC FP7 People Programme, is to develop a novel methodology to monitor the gasoline contaminated water by differential ion mobility spectrometry.

    “Different ion mobility spectrometry can separate different gasoline related compounds dependent on the motilities of chemical compounds at high and low electric fields. Coupled to micro gas chromatography column, DMS can distinguish the target gasoline compounds from the complicated gasoline matrix and the surrounding environment in several minutes.” Feng Liang, a PhD student in IWW Water Centre cooperating with University of Duisburg Essen, said “By comparison, the traditional lab-based methods to analyse groundwater need 3 weeks and about 100 US dollar per sample”.

 

    The main output of this project is that a novel methodology based on differential ion mobility spectrometry can be developed and implemented in routine groundwater monitor. This device may be good news for environmental inspection agency, petrochemical company and other industrial enterprise in future.

Feng Liang, IWW Water Centre, Germany

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