Integrated In-Situ Chemical MApping Probes
Marine environments are vulnerable ecosystems, influenced by a diversity of anthropogenic constituents, natural substances, and organisms that may have adverse effects on their fragile equilibrium, their living resources, and ultimately, on human health. Identification of relevant types of hazards at the appropriate temporal and spatial scale is thus crucial to detect their sources, to understand the processes governing their magnitude and distribution, and to evaluate and manage their risks and consequences preventing marine economic losses.
SCHeMA's overall aim is to develop, apply and field validate an autonomous marine water quality observatory system deployable from various facilities. The SCHeMA system will consist of a plug-and-play adaptive wireless chemical sensor probe network. This will be used as a front-end for gathering detailed spatial and temporal information on water quality and status, based on a range of hazardous compounds. SCHeMA will particularly focus on the detection of: mercury, cadmium, lead, arsenic and copper bioavailable metal fractions; nitrate, nitrite, and phosphate nutrients; species relevant to
the carbon cycle; volatile organic compounds (VOCs); biotoxins and potentially toxic algae species. An ad-hoc ICT wireless networking solution will allow remote control of data transfer and system reconfiguration. Gathered data will be reported back to a web-based data information system for data logging, storage, standardization, evaluation, modelling, and user-friendly accessibility. The SCHeMA sensing tools will be optimised throughout their development via short field tests and inter-comparison with data obtained using established laboratory techniques.
Long-term field applications and demonstration will be performed at Atlantic and Mediterranean coastal areas. The expected project outcome is three-fold: (1) product-based – it will develop a suite of powerful field-validated submersible chemical sensor probes and a smart multi-sensor probe Hardware/Software interface platform ready for post-industrial production; (2) applied – it will enable water quality assessment of various marine ecosystems and identification of the critical parameters considered relevant for successful management of water quality; (3) scientific – it will lead to a better understanding of the bio-geochemical processes occurring in selected EU coastal areas. Such steps will be critical to predict the impact of land-based pollution in vulnerable coastal ecosystems, and to develop knowledgebased policies for the protection of the marine environment.
The SCHeMA array of miniaturized sensors will be developed taking advantage of various innovative technical solutions such as: biopolymerbased gel-integrated sensors for direct speciation of a number of trace metals; solid state ion-selective membrane sensors coupled to an on-line desalination module allowing reagentfree, potentially calibration-free, detection of nutrients; mid-infrared optical sensors for the detection of harmful VOCs; optical devices involving selective reversible immobilization of target molecules to sense algae species and toxins. These microsensors will be assembled into miniature low power consumption probes based on Eco-Design - ISO/IEC standards and EnOcean technology. Data collection/transmission will be handled with a dedicated webbased front-end system compatible with EU standard requirements.