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Details of Grant 

EPSRC Reference: EP/G019967/1
Title: Novel technologies for in situ environmental monitoring: linking sensor development to improved pollutant transport models.
Principal Investigator: Wade, Professor AJ
Other Investigators:
Whitehead, Professor P
Researcher Co-Investigators:
Professor RA Skeffington
Project Partners:
Environment Agency (Grouped)
Department: Geography
Organisation: University of Reading
Scheme: Standard Research
Starts: 01 October 2009 Ends: 31 March 2013 Value (£): 302,990
EPSRC Research Topic Classifications:
Instrumentation Eng. & Dev. Water Engineering
EPSRC Industrial Sector Classifications:
Environment Water
Related Grants:
Panel History:
Panel DatePanel NameOutcome
12 Nov 2008 Engineering Systems Panel Announced
Summary on Grant Application Form
The quality of surface waters is becoming of increasing concern worldwide as demand for water grows and population pressures increase. Recognising this, EU legislation (the Water Framework Directive) now requires improvements in the chemical and ecological status of European freshwaters. The primary influences on water quality are biological and chemical reactions in the soils and rocks of water catchment areas, and similar reactions in streams, rivers and lakes. The pathways water takes through catchment areas are also important in determining both the quantity and quality of water in lakes and rivers. All these influences are being affected by environmental change: in climate; in agriculture and other land uses; and in the development of industry, transport and urbanisation. This is in turn affecting water quantity and quality, but predicting the effect of such changes is difficult. Various computer models have been used to predict the effects of these changes, with some success. However, it has been known for some time that they have severe limitations in predicting future trends in water quality: for instance, different models may be equally good at explaining the present situation, but may produce very different predictions when run into the future. One way to develop improved models is to incorporate into them a better understanding of environmental processes which can be achieved through making more detailed environmental measurements on streams and rivers. This in turn requires the development of innovative methods of measurement. The focus of this project is to take advantage of recent developments in analytical science to develop a system for making high-frequency chemical measurements in lakes and rivers which will be cheaper, more reliable under field conditions, and have low power and reagent consumption. This should make it possible to collect much more detailed data, which can then be used to develop improved predictive models, possibly requiring quite new approaches. This is an interdisciplinary project involving chemists, engineers and environmental modellers from the Universities of Reading and Hull, the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology and the Environment Agency.Over the last few years, considerable progress has been made in shrinking and redesigning apparatus used for chemical analysis so it can fit on a glass or plastic plate about 4 x 4 cm in size - the so called lab on a chip technology. This project will develop this technique to measure more substances of environmental importance, and ruggedize the equipment so it can be used in the field. The measurements will be compared with conventional technology, and effort will be put in to improving the accuracy, precision and stability of the equipment until we have a viable analysis system. The data generated by both new and conventional equipment will be used for model development and to improve understanding of the processes influencing water quality and quantity.If successful, the project should lead to a wide range of applications and benefits. As well as an improved ability to predict the effects of environmental change, a cheap and reliable method for monitoring water quality will help regulatory agencies, industries and agriculture monitor and mitigate their environmental impacts, and provide a method for the early detection of polluted water supplies, for instance from toxic algal blooms or acts of terrorism. The low power requirements mean that measurements away from mains power supplies become a practical proposition, with potential applications in developing countries as well as the UK. The devices could be used to monitor the chemistry of water streams in industrial processes, and may lead to the development of a commercial product, providing income to the UK economy and the higher education sector.
Key Findings
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Potential use in non-academic contexts
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Date Materialised
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Project URL: http://www.reading.ac.uk/shes/research/Projects/shes-hydro-tech.aspx
Further Information:  
Organisation Website: http://www.rdg.ac.uk