By Noah W. | 3DP4E
Researchers from, quite appropriately, the University of Bath’s Department of Chemical Engineering and Bristol Robotics Laboratory at the University of the West of England have created a sensor to be used in rivers and lakes for water quality assessment.
The device, which was designed and printed using 3D printing technology, is essentially a cell filled with bacteria that produce electrical charge. When bacteria in the sensor come into contact with contaminated water the electrical current decreases. This change is enough to alert someone that the water is dangerous.
Current ways of measuring water quality often involve very expensive and delicate specialized equipment, and the knowledge of an expert to operate them. That this new device is cheap and accurate is the primary reason that this breakthrough could be a major help to those in developing countries.
Dr. Mirella Di Lorenzo, Lecturer in Chemical Engineering at Bath, said the biosensor is a simple, and useful warning system. “Because this system uses live bacteria, it acts a bit like a canary in a mine, showing how these chemicals affect living organisms."
Dr. Di Lorenzo also emphasized the benefits of the immediacy of the device. “This means we are able to monitor the level of pollutants in the water in real time without having to collect multiple samples and take them to a laboratory.”
The team’s research is published in the Biosensors and Bioelectric journal, titled ‘A small-scale air-cathode microbial fuel cell for on-line monitoring of water quality’.
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