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I2BioS — Realtime water quality and toxicity monitoring for wastewater operators

Water reuse and recycling is being increasingly emphasized as countries experience rapid urbanization. Water utility operators and monitors generally focus on treating and repurposing wastewater. But this is becoming increasingly challenging because industrial manufacturers discharge highly concentrated contaminant filled wastewater unexpectedly. Environsens (Imagine H2O Asia’19) has developed an Integrated Intelligent Biosensor (I2BioS) for water utilities that constantly monitors water quality and detects water toxicity, providing real-time analytics to wastewater system operators.

Water agencies currently monitor water quality using manual sampling sensors to detect various pollutants like heavy metals, dyes, cyanides, and pesticides. The data enables operators to treat these contaminants in wastewater plants. These sensors require technicians for sample preparation and physical testing; often resulting in delayed contaminant analysis and responses. Additionally, water utility operators are unable to understand fluctuations in water contaminant levels. Thus, current testing technologies and procedures do not equip agencies to effectively treat increasingly complex wastewater discharges.

Industries continuously release wastewater for treatment during their manufacturing processes. The delayed analysis and ensuing response from wastewater system operators create a situation where contaminants are already diluted or released before corrective treatment processes are initiated. As a result, operators do not know which industry released the toxic substances, where it came from, or when it was released. This leads to numerous operational challenges because monitors do not know how, or when, to respond to the excessive wastewater contamination. And water reclamation plants suffer as they are exposed to high concentrations of toxicity and waste energy and resources in delayed responses.

Illegal pollution is a critical challenge and early-detection of abnormal concentrations is increasingly essential for water agencies. This will ensure that their treatment follows regulations, enable better protection from hazardous waste, and help operators identify those responsible for illegal or accidental discharge. Thus, a real-time monitoring software is crucial.

At EnvironSens, we have developed an Integrated Intelligent Biosensor (I2BioS) that provides an end-to-end solution to water agencies by detecting toxic contaminants present in wastewater. Using an algorithm, our I2BioS technology automatically collects instant toxic samples, conducts online surveillance, and transmits alerts and online data to the water agencies; thus safeguarding the water treatment processes and water bodies.

We are currently working in partnership with PUB (Singapore’s National Water Agency) and have been awarded a USD 120,000 grant to install 100 I2BioS across Singapore. We have deployed 45 units and successfully captured over 20 incidents of breaching permissible discharge limits of heavy metals in Singapore. We have also helped PUB identify sources of illegal and accidental discharge in used water. We aim on entering the Chinese, Indian, and other Southeast Asian markets in the near future.

As our understanding about the scale of wastewater contamination grows, we need new innovative approaches to eliminate the threats it poses to public health. Follow Environsens as we continue our journey to empower communities to take action today.