SixsensoAlter Technology TÜV NORDIberosolve and ASE-Optics collaborate in the WATERSENSE project to develop a modular, portable and cost-effective device capable of rapid, on-site contamination assessment in water samples.

This innovative technology will provide laboratory results quickly, complying with current operational protocols and regulations. It is estimated to take < 5 min for phytoplankton and < 3 hours for bacteria, as opposed to 24 hours or several days for laboratory cultures.

The initiative, coordinated by secpho, has received funding from the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Tourism corresponding to Next Generation EU funds, canalised through the support programme for Innovative Business Groups, whose objective is to digitalise the industry.

Bacteria, viruses, fungi and phytoplankton are some of the organisms present in the waters of our seas and oceans. Some micro-organisms, non-indigenous and generally harmful to humans and local marine species, can sometimes reach the coast via municipal sewage and invade the coastal ecosystem in uncontrolled episodes.

These uncontrolled pollution events cause loss of biodiversity, degradation of coastal habitats, mass die-offs of species in aquaculture farms and contamination of bathing areas, resulting in dramatic environmental impacts and significant economic losses.

Besides, traditional microbiological analysis methods and detection of pathogen contamination in water samples are too slow to establish preventive testing procedures. These methods are mainly performed by culture and sample pre-enrichment techniques and therefore require specialised laboratories and several days to obtain the results.

In this context, WATERSENSE proposes a portable and cost-effective solution for rapid, on-site assessment of phytoplankton and other microorganisms (e.g. E. coli, Enterococci, Legionella, Vibrio bacteria and Norovirus) in water samples.

The device comprises a quantitative and modular system including concentration, marking and readout, and specific consumables (BioKit-SYS) designed for each application, enabling ultra-fast qualitative analysis. The system is easy to use, highly specific and complies with legislation.

Therefore, WATERSENSE is presented as a highly innovative solution, unique in the market and with a high potential for diversification towards other sectors related to water pollution level analysis, such as the port and aquaculture sector, drinking water supply or the agri-food, pharmaceutical or cosmetics industry.