Scientists at the Marine and Environmental Sensing Technology Hub (MESTECH) are participating in the European project MariaBox (“MARINE environmental in situ Assessment and monitoring tool BOX”). The project, funded by the European Seventh Framework Program (FP7), aims to develop automated sensors for analysing pollutants and algal-toxins at sea.
Led by the CNE Research and Innovation Center in Cyprus, and with a total budget of €5.1M, the project consists of research groups and companies from Cyprus, Spain, Ireland, United Kingdom, Italy and Norway.
The Mariabox sensors will be portable devices which can be adapted to buoys, platforms or ships as ‘floating labs’. Existing commercially available sensors are large and expensive for use in routine monitoring and the current method of seawater analysis, involving routine sampling and laboratory analysis, is relatively time-consuming. To tackle this, the MariaBox project aims to develop miniaturised sensors that can sample regularly and analyse in real-time in the marine environment.
The device will be autonomous, with an energy source, reagents, sensors, data acquisition and transmission systems, a web platform and mobile app all contained within the device. The devices will make simultaneous analysis in different selected coastal areas, particularly areas with aquaculture activities.
The sensors will analyse typical physical and chemical parameters in addition to five artificial pollutants (napthalenes, several dioxins and pesticides) and four algal-toxins (saxitoxin, microcystins, azaspiracid and domoic acid).