Water Quality Alert System under development in Cork

Tyndall National Institute and Environmental Laboratories Services Ltd (ELS Ltd) – two Cork-based scientific organisations – have committed to a collaborative EU Horizon 2020 project (SMARTER-Si) to develop a domestic water quality test device. The device will allow users to rapidly screen for the presence of harmful contaminants such as chemical and biological hazards, including the harmful e-coli bacteria.

Safe and reliable drinking water is essential to every community. As our water systems are put under increasing strain due to population growth and trends of urbanisation, there is a clear demand to ensure the water we consume is, first and foremost, safe and of a sufficient quality.

Tyndall National Institute and Environmental Laboratories Services Ltd are part of a Europe-wide collaboration, which has drawn down €6m in EU funding to create 10 new critical applications as part of a technological collaboration. The Irish partners will focus on the development of a rapid-detection, water-screening device. This affordable, easy-to-use, portable device will be the first of its kind. Those developing the device believe it will deliver results within the hour, which is days faster than current methodologies.

As well as its importance to users in the home, consumers and regulators demand that water used in the food, beverage and agricultural industry must be safe from farm to fork. A wide range of natural and man-made contaminants can get into the water and food & beverages we consume at any stage of the supply chain. Current methods are too slow for incident control and prevention. The portable device’s cost, usability and efficiency will enable quality to be continually monitored – as has been advised by the European Council Committee on Drinking Water – limiting the scope for contamination.

This water screening innovation will be enabled by technologies developed in the Tyndall National Institute’s Life Science and Sensing & Separation Groups, in this instance under the direction of Principal Investigator, Dr Eric Moore.

The announcement was made today at this week’s Tyndall Technology Days held in the Kingsley Hotel in Cork. Commenting on the announcement, Tyndall CEO, Dr Kieran Drain, said ‘Water is a primary natural resource and a vital ingredient of everything we do in life. Recent events, as seen in the media, illustrate the importance we stress on a reliable and safe water supply. The SMARTER-Si project will enable people, for the first time, to test their own water supply and give peace of mind at an affordable price.’

Speaking at the Technology Days, ELS Ltd. Commercial Director, Richard Crotty: ‘The SMARTER-Si project is a direct response to the need to safeguard health in consumable water for the people of Europe, in the home and on the farm. This project has the capacity to deliver confidence to consumers, safe in the knowledge that water can be tested and screened prior to the point of consumption.’