Analytical Devices for Autonomous Monitoring of the Environment

Final Report for the ERTDI-funded project: 2004-RS-AIC-M4

Summary: STRIVE Report 36 - Tanja Radu et al.

Published: 2009

ISBN: 978-1-84095-321-3

Pages: 52

Filesize: 1,824 KB

Format: pdf


The project ‘Analytical Devices for Autonomous Monitoring of the Environment’ was organised into three sub-projects:

  • Development of an autonomous phosphate analyser for measuring nutrient levels in rivers, lakes and coastal regions.
  • Development of a light-emitting diode (LED)-based instrument for colorimetric measurement of light-modulated photoswitchable polymeric films.
  • Development of methods for qualifying the elemental (mainly heavy metal) content of soils and dust samples.

A portable system for the long-term monitoring of phosphate was developed. This completely autonomous device incorporates sampling, reagent and waste storage, colorimetric detection, wireless communication, and a power supply into a complete, miniaturised system. The integration of a wireless communication device allows acquisition parameters to be controlled remotely and adjusted according to individual needs. In addition, wireless communication capabilities allow the results to be downloaded remotely and displayed in real time. The autonomous capabilities of the system – combined with the portability and wireless communication – provide the flexibility needed for on-site phosphate monitoring. This system demonstrates the potential of truly autonomous microfluidic platforms for use in long-term environmental monitoring. The current limit of detection (LOD) of the system is approximately 0.3 mg/L P-PO4, which limits the application of the system to water bodies with elevated phosphate levels, and the monitoring of point sources. Improvements to the sensitivity of the system through optimisation of the microfluidic manifold and detection system is ongoing, with the aim of decreasing the LOD towards the lower limits specified in the relevant European Union directives.

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