Monday, March 15, 2010


New Instrument has Climate Change, Water Security Uses

Columbus, OH – Scientists at Battelle and Fluid Imaging Technologies, in Yarmouth, ME, have designed a sensor that can not only better measure changes in the levels of toxic red tide in oceans and algae blooms in the Great Lakes, but also monitor close-to-home problems such as the increase of odor-causing organisms in the public water supply.

Better yet, the results come rapidly – almost in real time.

The device, called Submersible FlowCAM®, was unveiled this week at the 2010 Ocean Sciences meeting at the Oregon Convention Center in Portland.

Taking up to 22 digital pictures per second, FlowCAM can identify and measure the abundance of many types of microscopic plankton and other water organisms and particles in oceans, lakes, reservoirs and streams and rapidly transmit that data to scientists.

“The upshot is that the Submersible FlowCAM can provide more accurate data faster and more cheaply than taking water samples and carrying them back to a laboratory for analysis,” said Carlton Hunt, Research Leader at Battelle’s Duxbury, MA, laboratory. “Once you put a boat in the water and you’re taking water samples, you have to bring them back and someone has to sit in a lab and look at them.”

Battelle scientists teamed with Fluid Imaging Technologies (FIT) to design and build the Submersible FlowCAM. Battelle was responsible for the pressure vessel housing that protects the instrument and the equipment to collect water for analysis. Fluid Imaging Technologies scientists designed the components, which fit inside the pressure vessel, that collect images and analyze the data. The device is based on laboratory and portable monitoring devices FIT has built for environmental monitoring and for quality control in the pharmaceutical, chemical, plastics and other industries.

“We have been aware of the requirement of marine researchers and water quality monitors for an in situ device providing real-time information on microorganisms in water systems ever since we first developed the FlowCAM in 1999,” said Harry Nelson, Director of Aquatic Sales for FIT. “Teaming up with the engineering expertise of Battelle, we are very pleased to be able to now offer our imaging technology filling this important need.”

The Submersible FlowCAM is 32 inches long, 11.5 inches in diameter, weighs about 115 pounds and is easily transportable. It currently is designed for use at depths up to 656 feet or 200 meters.

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