Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

New Unattended Water Sensor Capable Of 24/7 Detection Of Toxins, Bacteria In Water Supplies

Date:
May 17, 2007
Source:
Sandia National Laboratories
Summary:
Scientists develop a method for constantly monitoring water for biological pathogens including biotoxins, bacteria, viruses, and protozoa. Sandia's unattended water sensor has successfully undergone testing at a large Bay Area water utility for more than a year and, just recently, has been deployed to a municipal water station in Arizona for additional observation and adjustments.

Sandia engineer Marci Markel displays the inside of the unattended water sensor. The UWS diagnostic instrumentation package is composed of analytic instruments, pumps, tubes, and small reservoirs to handle minute amounts of fluid. The technology is largely based on Sandia's well-known ΅ChemLab.
Credit: Image courtesy of Sandia National Laboratories

In late 2004, Sandia National Laboratories announced a multiyear research agreement with Tenix Investments Pty. Ltd., a partnership that offered the vision of a safer future for the nation’s water supplies. The collaboration aspired to develop a method for constantly monitoring water for biological pathogens including biotoxins, bacteria, viruses, and protozoa. Now, just two-and-a-half years into the project, Sandia researchers have a working device in place and have demonstrated that the initial dream is, indeed, now a reality.

Sandia’s unattended water sensor (UWS) has successfully undergone testing at a large Bay Area water utility for more than a year and, just recently, has been deployed to a municipal water station in Arizona for additional observation and adjustments. Staff will perform periodic maintenance and troubleshooting on the system, which is expected to further demonstrate the viability of unattended water monitoring.

“The initial research and development was focused on defining the system, identifying its core capability, and developing a concrete tool that does what we wanted it to do,” said Chris Macintosh, Tenix Investment’s engineering manager. “Having now met those objectives and proven the capability of the technology, the next phase of the design will be to take this knowledge and develop a product suitable for use by the water industry.” Macintosh said that other applications for the UWS include monitoring of agricultural water for contaminants, as well as water provided to sports stadiums and other venues.

Sandia engineer Marci Markel displays the inside of the unattended water sensor. The UWS diagnostic instrumentation package is composed of analytic instruments, pumps, tubes, and small reservoirs to handle minute amounts of fluid. The technology is largely based on Sandia’s well-known ΅ChemLab.

Field-deployable detection technologies in the nation’s water supplies have become a high priority in recent years. “Biological monitoring devices are essential to assess the type and extent of contamination in a suspected water security event,” according to an upcoming report by the National Research Council’s Water Science and Technology Board. “A broader range of innovative and developing detection technologies for biological agents, including methods that are field deployable. . . should be considered and evaluated,” the report asserts.

Sandia’s UWS (measuring 17 inches high by 14 inches wide by 7 inches deep) is a box composed of analytic instruments, pumps, tubes, and small reservoirs to handle minute amounts of fluid. The reservoirs, playfully referred to by Sandia researchers as the “juice bar,” contain chemical buffers, fluorescent dyes, proteins, and separation gel. This innovative diagnostic instrumentation package, based on Sandia’s well-known MicroChemLab technology, is mounted near the water supply. The box is connected to a small, submerged probe that transports the sample into the system.

Largely due to the automated sample preparation that is the hallmark of the device, the UWS is currently able to achieve sample analysis in just 12 minutes — a marked improvement over the original goal of 30 minutes or less.

According to Brent Haroldsen, who serves as Sandia’s lead engineer on the project, the UWS is currently able to detect protein toxins such as SEB, botulinum, and ricin. Haroldsen said the next phase of the Sandia activities will be to expand the device’s detection capability to include bacteria such as E. coli and protozoa such as Cryptosporidium.

“To detect those kinds of pathogens, we will incorporate more advanced sample preparation techniques, which we have already developed for other projects,” said Haroldsen. “This requires us to solubilize, or “break up” the cell into individual proteins. Detecting organisms also requires improved signature recognition capability to accommodate their natural variation.”

Sandia researchers, said Haroldsen, need to configure a working database of organism signatures to allow them to accurately distinguish the signatures from one another. He and his Sandia colleagues are looking at algorithm approaches that will help define the level of specificity the UWS will be able to achieve. One such method, for example, is the Bayesian approach (Bayesian analysis, according to the International Society for Bayesian Analysis, is a well-known approach to data analysis that casts statistical problems in the framework of decision making). Haroldsen says that the technology used in the UWS could clearly discriminate between types of organisms such as bacteria or viruses, “as long as we appropriately account for their natural variability.”

Victoria VanderNoot, an analytical chemist at Sandia who serves as the UWS project’s lead scientist, also noted the cost-savings advantages that come with using proteins to differentiate between organisms. “It gets us away from having to use expensive primers or antibodies, which are needed with other techniques like polymerase chain reaction (PCR) or immunoassay,” she points out.

Haroldsen says that ensuring the reliability of the components used to develop this prototype — which are small and intricate — is a challenge that he and his colleagues have embraced with gusto. Sandia invented many of the components, such as a suite of microfluidic fittings, manifolds, and interconnects, because no commercial products were available to reproducibly handle slight amounts of fluids.

The UWS is expected to operate for at least three months in Arizona. Sandia and its partners would then like to bring the system to an Environmental Protection Agency facility or the U.S. Army’s Edgewood Chemical Biological Center, where it can be tested in a real-world environment that includes analysis on bona fide toxic agents situated in authentic water supply conditions. Currently, analysis is conducted in both situations individually (i.e., in a laboratory setting at Sandia or in water supply facilities in Arizona or the Bay Area), but not simultaneously.

“We’ve made really good progress and have proven that the concept works,” Haroldsen said. “We’re proud of what we’ve been able to achieve.”


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Sandia National Laboratories. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Sandia National Laboratories. "New Unattended Water Sensor Capable Of 24/7 Detection Of Toxins, Bacteria In Water Supplies." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 17 May 2007. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/05/070515184306.htm>.
Sandia National Laboratories. (2007, May 17). New Unattended Water Sensor Capable Of 24/7 Detection Of Toxins, Bacteria In Water Supplies. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 23, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/05/070515184306.htm
Sandia National Laboratories. "New Unattended Water Sensor Capable Of 24/7 Detection Of Toxins, Bacteria In Water Supplies." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/05/070515184306.htm (accessed October 23, 2014).

Share This



More Matter & Energy News

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

3D Printed Instruments Make Sweet Music in Sweden

3D Printed Instruments Make Sweet Music in Sweden

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Oct. 23, 2014) — Students from Lund University's Malmo Academy of Music are believed to be the world's first band to all use 3D printed instruments. The guitar, bass guitar, keyboard and drums were built by Olaf Diegel, professor of product development, who says 3D printing allows musicians to design an instrument to their exact specifications. Matthew Stock reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Chameleon Camouflage to Give Tanks Cloaking Capabilities

Chameleon Camouflage to Give Tanks Cloaking Capabilities

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Oct. 22, 2014) — Inspired by the way a chameleon changes its colour to disguise itself; scientists in Poland want to replace traditional camouflage paint with thousands of electrochromic plates that will continuously change colour to blend with its surroundings. The first PL-01 concept tank prototype will be tested within a few years, with scientists predicting that a similar technology could even be woven into the fabric of a soldiers' clothing making them virtually invisible to the naked eye. Matthew Stock reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Jet Sales Lift Boeing Profit 18 Pct.

Jet Sales Lift Boeing Profit 18 Pct.

Reuters - Business Video Online (Oct. 22, 2014) — Strong jet demand has pushed Boeing to raise its profit forecast for the third time, but analysts were disappointed by its small cash flow. Fred Katayama reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Internet of Things Aims to Smarten Your Life

Internet of Things Aims to Smarten Your Life

AP (Oct. 22, 2014) — As more and more Bluetooth-enabled devices are reaching consumers, developers are busy connecting them together as part of the Internet of Things. (Oct. 22) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Space & Time

Matter & Energy

Computers & Math

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins