Field Testing of Optical Phosphate Sensor in Indiana

As part of our Naughton Fellowship project “Development and optimisation of optical sensors for continuous, real-time monitoring of eutrophying nutrients in an agricultural catchment” undertaken by Water Institute researcher Gillian Duffy. Last week our phosphate sensor was brought from DCU to University of Notre Dame in Indiana, USA for in-field measurement in streams within an agricultural catchment.

The exciting project funded under the prestigious Naughton Fellowship aims to develop and optimize an autonomous optical phosphate sensor for real time, continuous measurement of very low levels of phosphate in an agricultural catchment. A large linear dynamic range must be maintained in order to detect pollution events.

After in-lab calibration in Notre Dame, the sensor was ready for field work. A nutrient pulse release was carried out in an agricultural stream, with subsequent measurement (by the developed sensors) and grab sample collection 50 m downstream, along with salinity measurements. The nitrate sensor developed by Prof. Jennifer Tanks group was also deployed to monitor the nitrate levels during the nutrient pulse.

The Naughton Fellowship program provides opportunities for Notre Dame students and students from some of Ireland’s leading research universities to experience international education in the STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) disciplines. The program seeks to connect exceptional students with leading faculty in those fields, stimulating research among the participating students and faculty and building stronger connections between the host institutions and countries.

   

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