Development of a UV Miniaturised Fourier Transform Spectrometer (MicroFTS) for the Detection of Dissolved Organic Carbon in Water

Lead Research Organisation: NERC Centre for Ecology and Hydrology
Department Name: Parr

Abstract

There are increasing scientific and water industry needs to acquire spatially and temporally intensive measurements of levels and molecular character of dissolved organic carbon (DOC) in the aquatic environment, and particularly in upland catchments that provide a large proportion of UK drinking water. Spectrometer-based systems currently on the market for this purpose are cumbersome, have a large power requirement, require frequent recalibration by trained operators and provide data based on hidden algorithms that limit interpretation of the resulting data. Here we propose to develop a new smaller, lighter, and self calibrating instrument, combining novel miniaturisation of Fourier Transform Spectrometry, and a new scientifically peer-reviewed (and published) approach to assessing DOC concentrations and character using CEH's unique water chemistry/UV-spectral database. Development will be taken to Task Readiness level 5, before we approach an industrial partner. We anticipate considerable demand from a potentially global water industrial and environmental scientific sectors.

Planned Impact

The academic beneficiaries of the UV optimised microFTS range through the atmospheric sciences (such as pollution transport meteorologists and climate scientists) through to chemists and volcanologists. The instrument benefits any science group that operates spectrometers or has the requirement to analyse solid, liquid or gaseous phase spectra. The microFTS instrument is compact, rugged which makes the instrument suitable for environments where current Michelson FTIR spectrometers are not. This includes remote using the microFTS instrument for remote sensing from an Unmanned Ariel Vehicle for Global Information Sciences, Land use and agricultural monitoring. Or for in-situ monitoring in the laboratory or in field measurements. An additional advantage of the microFTS instrument is the increased temporal resolution. Using very high speed detectors (commercially available up to 10^-7 seconds), it is possible to probe the dynamical kinetics of chemical reactions.
The other areas addressed by this technology include:
- Pharmaceutical. In line analysis of drugs within the production of drugs
- Chemical processing sensors. For example in situ on-line measurements of chemical processes used in large scale pharmaceutical production plants.
- Medical diagnosis such as testing for diabetes through breath analysis.
- Multi-object spectroscopy systems for ground and space based astronomy.
It is recognised that the different groups (both science and industry), respond to different stimuli, therefore to maximise the knowledge transfer, each shall be targeted in different ways. The engagement with the Science Community shall be through the routes of publishing in scientific journals (Applied Optics, SPIE etc.) and presenting the results of the work at relevant science conferences (American Meteorological Society, European Geophysical Union etc.). However, the microFTS instrument will be of particular interest to certain science groups, these will be identified and shall be approached to either form a direct collaboration or to see whether this technology could be applied to their work in a method that would be of interest to them. Routes to these different user groups shall be through the Universities Research Services and Innovations groups.
The engagement with the Industrial Community shall be through attending trade shows and publishing in trade magazines. There shall also be a direct liaison with relevant companies, in order that collaborations can be instigated for future field trials of the instrument. Finally, publicising the work on the internet, and using the STFC and RAL Space website, will automatically focus the communication with both science and industries that are interested in spectroscopy
Information regarding the output from this project will also be put on the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory newsletter, and bulletin board. The Innovations group will identify new users and potential applications through contacts with companies and other Innovation groups.
The impact of the success will be measured, in science terms, in the number of citations of published material. In industrial terms, the interest generated from any collaboration formed will be seen as a major success.
As the instrument concept has been granted a patent, there exists a route to commercialisation, either through spinning out the technology, or through licensing the intellectual property. The economic impact will be reflected in the improved quality of scientific instrumentation that the microFTS instrument would bring to the world spectroscopy market. It is unique in its technology, and therefore the UK would be advantageously placed to take advantage of the benefits to society and wealth generation.
 
Description We have developed the technology to the point that dissolved organic carbon can be accurately (albeit with some noise) measured in solution rapidly and at a fraction of the cost of existing systems. Dissolved organic carbon (DOC) is important for the water industry for providing clean water. Also DOC may be found in other solutions such as in food or drink. Whisky and beer contain DOC as maltose and fruit sugars. So being able to cheaply and remotely measure these compounds will be important for a wide range of processes.
Exploitation Route Once our system has been developed beyond the prototype we envisage that the system could be used by industry and the general public. It should be possible to interface the device with e.g. Iphones so that water analyses could be conducted at home, or by schools. Any system that analyzes water samples using UV spectroscopy may be able to utilise this device, and therefore the market could be huge.
Sectors Aerospace, Defence and Marine,Agriculture, Food and Drink,Chemicals,Creative Economy,Electronics,Energy,Environment,Healthcare,Leisure Activities, including Sports, Recreation and Tourism,Manufacturing, including Industrial Biotechology,Pharmaceuticals and Medical Biotechnology,Security and Diplomacy

 
Description The project findings have been used in the R & D environment only. We have used the system for comparing measured DOC concentrations at a United Utilities water treatment unit at Lancaster, with estimates from our instrument.
First Year Of Impact 2014
Sector Environment
Impact Types Societal,Economic

 
Title Absorbance spectra from surface waters 
Description The dataset contains absorbance spectra from the Agilent spectrometer, the Micro FFTS spectrometer under development in this project, and also wet chemistry measurements of DOC for calibration and testing 
Type Of Material Database/Collection of data 
Provided To Others? No  
Impact This database is used for the testing of the instrument, and as such results in a refinement of the instrument under development. 
 
Description Collaboration With United Utilities 
Organisation United Utilities Group PLC
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution We provided chemical analysis of waters obtained from the treatement plant, before and after coagulant additions.
Collaborator Contribution United Utilties provided the Centre for Ecology and hydrology team with access to their water treatment plant at Lancaster.
Impact The United Utilities team contributed staff time, and attended a stakeholder workshop at which they contributed ideas towards the final design of the instrument. In addition they supplied data, knowledge items and expertise.
Start Year 2015
 
Title Intellectual Property 
Description CEH/STFC MicrFTS : Description of IP Contribution Contributing Party Form of IP Contribution Micro FFTS UV-VIS sensor and light source - STFC - Instrument Software for interpreting CCD data and delivering a spectra -STFC - Software Algorithm for interpreting the spectra from prototype to predict DOC - CEH - A novel code Database of DOC chemistry for relating DOC to spectra - CEH - A dataset Flow-through water sampler - CEH - Sample delivery system Final design of system and application - STFC/CEH - Unit design 
IP Reference  
Protection Copyrighted (e.g. software)
Year Protection Granted 2016
Licensed No
Impact Contributed to the development of a new instrument
 
Title Micro - UV Vis FFTs system 
Description The instrument, as developed to date under CLASP, represents an advance on the current type of FTS instruments. It provides the same advantages over grating-based spectrometers that are common to Michelson FTIR (Fourier Transform Infrared) instrumentation, i.e. high spectral resolution and higher signal to noise ratio in comparison to grating based spectrometers, Crucially however, the microFTS has no moving components, the instrument is inherently stable and has a temporal advantage over current FTS instruments, since there is no need to scan a mirror to generate an interferogram. These stability and temporal advantages make the instrument particularly well suited for dynamic environments under high flow. The static optical configuration is arranged such that the interferogram is dispersed spatially along a focal plane, where a detector array is positioned. In this configuration the interferogram is sampled at discrete locations determined by the architecture of the pixel elements within the detector array. The microFTS, shown in Figure 1, utilises a simple optical arrangement to split and then recombine light to form a complex modulated interference pattern (known as an interferogram). The frequency spectrum of the source radiation is obtained by applying a Fourier transform to the recorded interferogram. During the CLASP project the microFTS was developed optically for the UV part of the spectrum, incorporating a UV enhanced back illuminated CCD, similar to the EHD imaging GMBH SciCam-UV device which operates from 120 to 1000nm. CEH provided a range of long-term monitoring field sites for field testing of prototypes. 
Type Of Technology Detection Devices 
Year Produced 2016 
Impact Until the instrument noise is dealt with the system cannot be used in the field or lab as a technical system. 
 
Title Software for interpreting Absorbance Spectra 
Description CEH developed a Matlab program for analysis of the full waveform spectra from the instrument. The software used Ed Tipping's algorithm for prediction of DOC in mg/l, using a pair fo wavelengths in the range 290 to 350 nm. The tool estimates extinction coefficients for any pair of wavelengths, before applying these values before calculating an estimate of DOC. 
Type Of Technology Software 
Year Produced 2016 
Impact The software was made in house, and was only used by the project team for testing the output of the device. 
 
Title Software for interpreting CCD data and delivering a spectra 
Description Software for interpreting CCD data , removing pixel level noise, and delivering an absorbance spectra 
Type Of Technology Software 
Year Produced 2015 
Impact The software enable the development of the instrument system to date. 
 
Description Paper Presentation at EGU 2015 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Presentation of our work to the European Geophysical Union general Congress in Vienna 2015. The paper was accepted as part of a series of seminars on spectrometer use for freshwater chemistry research.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
URL https://www.ceh.ac.uk/news-and-media/blogs/ceh-science-egu-2015
 
Description Poster presentation at EGU 2016 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Ali Hussain from STFC presented his work on the detection and measurement of dissolved organic carbon in water using our UV miniaturised Fourier Transform Spectrometer
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
URL http://presentations.copernicus.org/EGU2016-7769_presentation.pptx
 
Description Poster presentation at EGU 2016 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Jess Adams presented her work from our project, looking at DOC and spectra measurements.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
URL http://meetingorganizer.copernicus.org/EGU2016/EGU2016-4635.pdf
 
Description Poster presentation at EGU 2016 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact We presented our work as a poster at the EGU 2016 in Vienna
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
URL http://presentations.copernicus.org/EGU2016-17728_presentation.pdf
 
Description Presentation to national CEH research centres 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact A 45 minute presentation to national CEH research centres via a videoconference system
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016