Water monitoring

Drinking water is our most important foodstuff and is subject to a variety of hazards, most of which are unforeseeable. For example, pesticides from agriculture or chemicals from industrial accidents can enter municipal supply systems via groundwater. The entry of toxic compounds through criminal or terrorist attacks also poses a growing risk, especially in decentralized and mobile systems.

Particular importance is therefore attached to the development of suitable sensors, test and monitoring systems to detect and evaluate harmful substances in soil and water using measurement technology. The institute offers essential basics in the fields of biosensors (biological components), functionalization of sensor surfaces, analytics, automation and data analysis.

Biosensor alarm systems for real-time monitoring

Biosensors consisting of living cells react quickly to the presence of toxic compounds and are, therefore, well suited for utilization in online alarm systems. Fraunhofer IGB develops biosensors based on living cells that are suitable as early warning systems for municipal water supply or decentralized supply systems. In addition, such real-time measuring systems are also suitable for monitoring process water purification. They can be selected and adapted to individual requirements for a timely and complete monitoring of treatment processes.

Various bacterial strains as well as mammalian cell lines in suitable measuring cells are used as biosensors. The biological systems differ in their metabolic properties, cell structure and sensitivity to chemical substances and biogenic toxins.

For the evaluation of the biological reactions we investigate different measuring principles. We collaborate with other Fraunhofer Institutes in translating the cellular reaction into a physically measurable signal.


Application areas of alert systems

  • Municipal water supply
  • Decentralized water treatment plants in tourist centers or on military bases
  • Transportable tanks in ships and aircrafts, in civil protection and supply of task forces in areas of conflict
  • Monitoring of process water treatment in industry


Advantages of biosensors

  • In-situ monitoring possible
  • Quick response of biosensors (reaction time < 5 min)
  • Detection of toxic effect of chemical substances or biological toxins
  • Transduction of alarm signal is based on reaction of biosensor