Water Quality Assurance…Quick

April 24, 2019

Chelation is a process in which ions and molecules bond to metal ions. In the human body, this takes place within the bloodstream when a chelating agent binds to heavy metal ions to prevent them from interacting with other molecules. 

Associate Professor Yong Ken-Tye and Professor Tjin Swee Chuan from the School of Electrical and Electronic Engineering at Nanyang Technical University in Singapore have recently developed a water-monitoring device based on this biological process. The technology combines a chelating agent, a laser that shines through it, and an optical fiber sensor paired with a processing unit. 

Heavy metal ions in a contaminated water sample bind to the chelating agent which changes the output light of the laser. The processing unit is then able to calculate the concentration of heavy metals based on that light with parts-per-billion precision in about five minutes. 

The device’s precision, speed, and portability make it a game-changer for water quality monitoring. Today tests are typically performed in a laboratory environment, which can take a day to complete. 

"Our device is capable of conducting on-site water quality tests quickly and can detect up to 24 types of metal contaminants, which is double the capacity of other commercially available water sensors,” explained Ken-Tye. The team’s research is published in the journalACS Sensors. 

What are your impressions? Do you think that this tool may expedite water quality monitoring processes? 

About the Author

Laura Sanchez

Laura Sanchez is the editor of Distributed Energy and Water Efficiency magazines.

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