ECOmonitor, an on-line ecotoxicity analyser

Ref-Nr: TDO0015

Technology abstract

The Belgian company QinetiQ Space offers an alternative for expensive offline ecotoxicological analysis for the industry's production phase: continuous on-line screening to measure the correlation between algal fluorescence and a clean environment. Standarized analytical methods use algae to monitor the toxicity of waste waters. Because they are important in the global ecosystem and don't survive in pollute waters.

Technology Description

The ECOmonitor is a tool to measure the correlation between algal fluorescence and a clean environment. Companies are bound to European legislation (91/27/EEC EC directive concerning urban waste water treatment) via their national environmental agency. One of the main principle of this directive is the monitoring aspects in terms of parameters monitored, analytical method and sampling frequency.  Member States are required to ensure that both discharges from wastewater treatment plants and receiving waters are monitored.  This applies, amongst others, to chemical, pharmaceutical, agrochemical, food, biocides, processing, cosmetics industries.

  • One of the monitoring aspects is on the ecotoxicological effect in the industry’s waste water.  During the production phase, companies in Flanders have to monitor this effect 4 times a year (imposed by discharge permit). Advantage of our technology is the continuous on-line monitoring of algae instead of a snapshot lab analysis.
  • Currently, industry assumes certain safety margins in their production capacity to prevent environmental damage. With a continuous waste water monitoring, safety margins could be reduced and thus production increased.
  • Production companies need to guarantee (legal, insurance) that they are not the source of water pollution. A continuous monitoring would prevent any legal claim and could reduce insurance fees.
  • The European Environment Legislation emphasizes the importance of measuring ecological relevant parameters, directly in the eco system, which could be performed with our technology.

Innovations & Advantages

Our aim is to offer a cheap and easy to use algae toxicity analyser.

The online monitoring will allow companies to:

  • Avoid environmental claims (because they can demonstrate results of their continuous monitoring)
  • Reduce insurance fees (5-50k€ benefit/year)
  • Have cost and time savings because they don’t need to  shut down or slow down production during pollution investigation
  • Optimise production because they can narrow environmental safety margins
  • Demonstrate legal compliance easily and at every moment (avoid legal claims)
  • Demonstrate a professional, sustainable company image

Current and Potential Domains of Application

The technology is used for scientific research nowadays.  We developed a small sensor using this technology and want to bring a plug-and-play version incorporated in an analyser to the markets bound to European environment legislation.