Development of a water-quality sensor

Large volumes of water are used all over the world for a variety of processes which generate large waste streams. Before it can be discharged, this water has to be treated to remove a variety of chemical pollutants. The effectiveness of this water treatment needs to be monitored, both for purposes of operational management and to ensure compliance with guideline values. However, with the current monitoring techniques (samples, sensors), the timely, cost-effective detection of incidents that overload the treatment plant is not always possible. The possibility exists that such incidents will not be detected in time to allow for mitigating measures.


With the Electrochemical Impedance Spectroscopy (EIS) technique one measures the dialectric properties of a sample to create a ‘fingerprint’ of the water composition. This fingerprint contains information about the chemical components of the sample.


The water sector needs a cost-effective solution for the monitoring of a wide group of substances in relatively low concentrations (detection and classification). This must be done quickly enough to make mitigating measures possible. In particular, substances, such as saturated hydrocarbons and inorganics, that cannot be monitored effectively with existing sensors deserve attention.

Anticipated solutions

The objective of this project is to show that the EIS technique can be used for the real-time or near-real-time monitoring of pollutants, such as heavy metals and organic micropollutants (concentration and type), in complex samples such as wastewater. The project will provide the scientific and technical bases for the development of a monitoring solution to support the water sector.