Innovations in Microbiology Generating Opportunities in Water

Apr 07, 2022

Real-time online sensors that can detect microbiological contamination in water and wastewater are “closer than people think”, according an expert speaker invited to address the latest Water Action Platform webinar.

Professor Tobias Barnard, a biochemist from the University of Johannesburg in South Africa, gave a rapid overview of innovations that could enhance water treatment.

Barnard said that microbiology “needs to be investigated more” for deployment in a wider range of water and wastewater applications. He shared techniques and approaches that could be deployed, including the use of predatory bacteria in combination solar disinfection to eliminate harmful microbes; and hunting for ‘extremophiles’, bacteria adapted to environments with extreme conditions that may have the characteristics required for specific applications.

Breakthrough technologies

Two further microbiology related technologies were presented during the webinar, both of them suitable for onsite analysis. Canadian technology company Tecta-PDS has developed the world’s first rapid microbial test for E coli, coliforms and enterococcal bacteria and is already supplying hundreds of water utilities and municipal labs globally.

Chief executive Doug Wilton explained, “It has incredible ease-of-use and can test the entire water system including drinking water, wastewater, raw water and even sludge.” The system is already in use in Singapore, Kuwait, North America and Australia, where Sydney Water has fitted out an entire fleet of mobile labs to improve their testing turnaround times.

QBiowater, a proprietary technology from the UK, uses autonomous wastewater monitoring to gain insights that reduce the spread of disease during pandemics. Chairman and co-founder Vito D’Ancona said that the enzymatic molecular assay has been developed to passively gather information on a targeted population to monitor and prevent the spread of future pandemics.

“It can be delivered fully configured for easy installation and is telemetry controlled,” he said.

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