Processing Magazine

Researchers develop new method for water quality assessment

March 11, 2014

<photocredit>The technique was tested in this brackish marsh. Photo: Francois Birgand.</photocredit>

Effective water management is crucial to communities in the United States and globally. But in order to make the right decisions when drawing up policies, lawmakers need the most accurate and current data. Researchers at North Carolina State University (NCSU) have developed a new method that collects detailed information about water quality by utilizing a set of algorithms that expand on existing data collection techniques using UV-Vis spectrometers.

UV-Vis spectrometers are currently used to measure the wavelengths of light absorbed by water and they use this data to analyze water quality every 15 seconds and for long periods of time. However, they only measure a few features of water, such as the level of nitrates, dissolved organic carbon and clarity. Thanks to the technology they have developed, NCSU researchers can analyze a broader spectrum of water quality indicators, including salinity and the levels of organic nitrogen, phosphates or total phosphorus.

RELATED: New desalination method also purifies water

Co-author of the research Dr. François Birgand, assistant professor of biological and agricultural engineering at NCSU, explained that the limited data gathered on many occasions can prevent adequate assessment of water quality issues and could interfere with the decision-making process. The new technology will allow much more detail to be taken into account and will reveal the bigger picture, facilitating successful outcomes, he added.