3D printed water quality sensor is a cheap way to protect against illness

3d printed water sensor
© University of British Columbia

Water quality is a major issue and not only in the developing world. One only need to look at cities like Flint, Michigan to realize that continual water testing and response is necessary.

Currently, water testing takes place only periodically and at limited points in a water distribution system, which allows for the possibility of contaminants entering the system undetected before water reaches people's homes.

Researchers at the University of British Columbia, led by Professor Mina Hoorfar, Director of the School of Engineering, have developed a solution that could make continuous and complete monitoring throughout a water system a possibility. They have created a 3D printed water quality sensor that is miniaturized and cheap to produce.

The sensor is able to take many different measurements at the same time like turbidity, pH, temperature, chlorine levels while also detecting pathogens and contaminants. The data the sensor collects is then sent wirelessly to a central system.

The sensors can be deployed throughout a water distribution system and because they operate independently, if one fails, the others will keep working, providing continual monitoring of water from source to consumption. The final place the sensors would be placed is in people's homes.

The idea of a fully and continuously-monitored water system has been too expensive of an idea to pursue, but because these sensors are made with 3D printers, the manufacture of them would be easy, fast and cheap. Such a system would mean that contaminants could be detected when and where they enter the system so that they could be caught early before it causes a public health problem.

3D printed water quality sensor is a cheap way to protect against illness
The sensors could be placed in people's homes to detect pathogens or pollutants.

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