Cost effective sensing platform for the detection of phosphate in natural waters

Andrew Donohoe, Margaret McCaul, Gareth Lacour, Dermot Diamond

Insight, Centre of data analytics, Republic of Ireland


Nutrients such as phosphate are central in many environmental processes within the marine environment, including several microbial, plant and animal metabolic processes. A cost effective sensor for the detection of phosphate in natural waters was developed as part of the COMMON SENSE FP7 project. The phosphate sensor is based on a combination of microfluidic analytical systems, colorimetric reagent chemistry, low-cost LED-based optical detection and wireless communications. The phosphate sensor has a limit of detection of 0.05uM, this limit of detection was achieved by the use of a pulse width modulated LED and a photodiode detector on an optical microfluidic chip.

The system is designed in a modular fashion to be deployed on varying platforms such as boats, mooring etc.

The sensing platform has been tested with a number of deployments in areas of environmental interest such as Ny-Aselund Svalbard on the Italian Artic Base, Sardinia Italy, CNR Italy testing Lagoon and the Mediterranean onboard the RV Minvera Uno. These deployments lead to further ruggedizing of the system.


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