New equipment allows for sampling, testing water in real time
Testing looks at chemicals, turbidity, microbiological/organic contamination
What’s in your water? Maybe things like unwanted chemicals, physical contamination or bacteria/organics—stuff you want to filter out successfully. To know just how well your filters are working—or not working—you send samples to the lab and then wait for a response. While the lab can find physical particles and chemicals rather quickly, waiting for a determination of whether the sample contains microbiological/organic particles can add to the length of time it takes to get a result. And what’s more, a lab test is just a snapshot in time—it doesn’t reflect what went on in your water flow before or after the sample you took.
Alex Keinan, chief scientist and CTO of Fluidsens International Inc., had been looking for a way to get immediate analytical results from testing running water flows. Inventor of the Fluidsens system for online, real-time testing of water, he holds a master’s degree in technology and acquired experience in many areas of science and proactively developed several patented technologies and products in the fields of nanotechnology, security, medical equipment and more. Fluidsens International also enlisted the help of Professor and Scientist Yuri Kaganovski, who is head of physics at Bar-Ilan University (Israel) and Kharkov State University, to further develop the technology.
Keinan’s invention can be directly installed on a water line by using a bypass, which diverts a continuous stream to the real-time analyzer. The SWA1 smart water analyzer detects general turbidity and microbiological and organic contamination, has an adjustable sensitivity down to 10 particles per ml and automatically cleans itself after every contamination using a replaceable cassette every six months. The device, which can operate without human intervention, has a specially developed spectrometer and software that control operation, analyzing the test results and transmitting the data to a built-in “control center.” Upon detecting a predetermined contamination level, the analyzer can immediately warn the user and stop the flow of water.
The Fluidsens system can be used to monitor for contamination in continuous water flows in critical applications such as food and beverage production facilities. The analyzer is available now, and units are being installed at municipal water systems in the US to monitor output quality on a real-time basis. FE caught up with the inventor, Alex Keinan, to get some more details.
FE: How long have you been working on this invention?
Alex Keinan: About 11 years. An international patent application for the system’s innovations was submitted in August 2015, and an international patent [was] applied in July 2016. An additional patent for the unique, automatic self-cleaning system is in the submission process.
FE: What are the underlying technologies that make it work?
Keinan: Spectrometry technologies developed by my team. In addition, we employed an algorithm and breakthrough technology that enables self-cleaning of the analyzer.
FE: What is the device, and how does it connect to a water system to be tested?
Keinan: The device consists of two modules: a specially developed, unique spectrometer with high sensitivity and selectivity—and a specially developed software program, controlling device operation, analyzing the test results and transmitting the obtained data and contamination signals to the control center. The unit also includes an automatic self-calibration system.
The device is connected to the water supply lines via a bypass tube and conducts continuous monitoring for detection of biological, chemical or any other contamination. After installation, the device does not require maintenance, and the device’s conditions are remotely controlled. When needed, maintenance data, including the history of device checkups, are transmitted to the control center.
FE: How does it work?
Keinan: The water stream passes the analyzer and is constantly irradiated by two energy sources.
- Particles of microbiological and organic origin strongly absorb UV with specific wavelength, and as a result of this special irradiation mode, particles that are dissolved in water move into a higher energy state with chaotic motion and are detected by the analyzer.
- A built-in program analyzes absorption parameters for various wavelengths and provides values (indices) about the level of water contaminations by microbiological, organic and general turbidity.
- Information is sent to the control center and followed by proper alerts by SMS (text message) to designated personnel.
- The system automatically checks for contamination and cleans itself using a cartridge with special cleaning material and technology. The cartridge can be easily replaced every six months.
FE: What is the role of the software?
Keinan: It is based on a special algorithm developed by me that allows the device to analyze in real time. It allows the system to produce findings that cannot be detected by the hardware alone.
FE: How long does it take to spot an impurity?
Keinan: A few seconds. Besides being able to send a warning message to designated people, the device can also be set up to take immediate action to stop water flow when a pre-specified level of contamination is detected in the water. In case a contamination is detected, the analyzer immediately alerts via built-in Bluetooth, sending a message to designated mobile devices and/or to an on-premise management system.
FE: What are the sensitivities for particles, bacteria or organics, and chemicals?
Keinan: Typically, just a very few particles (as few as 10 particles in one ml) and/or bacteria are required.
FE: Can the analyzer distinguish dangerous bacteria from other organic matter?
Keinan: The system sends a warning signal as a contamination appears in case it is higher than the standard allowed or planned. At this stage, the analyzer does not distinguish and gives no answer about the kind or composition of the contamination.
FE: How long does it take to set up and calibrate the analyzer?
Keinan: Typically, the unit takes about a half hour to set up and run. The Fluidsens system provides system configuration through the main device’s touchscreen. Screens allow for the adjustment of absorbance threshold, valid detection, average measuring (Y/N), pause (time between detection), number of detections, minutes of analyzing period and minutes of detection delay. The device can automatically stop the contaminated water flow and re-calibrate itself after each contamination event using a patented solution contained in a built-in cassette.
FE: What approvals do you have on the device?
Keinan: Fluidsens SWA1 water analyzer has passed regulatory tests and is approved for marketing and sales worldwide by the Standards Institution of Israel. The Fluidsens device was installed and tested at two of the largest food manufacturers in Israel and at an independent lab. The device has passed regulatory tests and has been validated by the major standards institutions in Europe and America, including ANAB, CE, UL, TÜV and others.
For more information, contact Arnon Scheflan, CEO, Fluidsens International, 201-777-4556, firstname.lastname@example.org.