Telit M2M technology enables ocean pollution monitoring project

MolluSCAN Eye project applies cellular M2M technology to monitor water quality using behavior of oysters as ‘cleanliness biosensors’

Telit M2M technology enables ocean pollution monitoring project

Telit Wireless Solutions, a global provider of machine-to-machine (M2M) solutions, products and services, has announced it is contribution of the company’s cellular M2M technology to the MolluSCAN Eye Project.

The France-based environmental science project is an international effort run by a multi-disciplinary group of basic researchers and university professors – biologists, electronics specialist, mathematicians, and webmasters.

The project which started in 2006 in Arcachon Bay, France seeks to detect changes and status in pollution levels of water in earth’s oceans by reading and interpreting electronically monitored movement and behavior of bivalves such as oysters, giant clams, and Icelandic scallops.

Dr. Jean-Charles Massabuau, PhD, research director CNRS, Physiological Ecology & Ecotoxicology, Aquatic Systems, Université de Bordeaux & CNRS, and leader of the MolluSCAN Eye project explains that a few years ago the primary idea was simply that, when exposed to pollution or poor quality water, a bivalve closes its shell, or in extreme situations, dies and the shell gapes with the valves completely open.

But he adds that today there is much more than that being observed and researched because bivalve behavior is in fact rather complex. It can change dramatically after exposure to even very low levels of pollution.

The project uses very light electromagnets weighing less than one gram attached to each of two valves in bivalves. The animals are continuously monitored to measure the valve's opening movements. The remote electronic monitoring system is composed of two parts. A waterproof encased unit which is submersed next to the animals acquires data and sends it to an above-water, dry unit which transmits the data via cellular network to the master server at the project’s lab using a Telit UC864-G GSM/GPRS module.

The remote device is a rugged, full-blown microcomputer system running the Linux operating system. The two parts of the device collectively draw a low one Watt of power which can be supplied by battery or solar. The waterproof unit consumes one third Watt and can run standalone as a data logger.

And due to amplification processes which have been significantly improved with technology and experience gained from the intense research over the years, the precision of the critical distance measured between electrodes is reliably very high.

Data collected from the monitored mollusks is analyzed by programs at the project’s server which have evolved significantly with the hastened pace of research. New theories in applied mathematics used to process the collected data have resulted in a PhD thesis in chronobiology, granted in 2011.

Two other PhD grants are planned for 2013. Mathematicians have developed a keen interest in the project not only because they are helping protect the planet, but also because each remote monitoring unit produces a robust 864,000 triplets of data points per day every day.

‘The MolluSCAN Eye project represents real evolution in environmental sciences,’ said Dominikus Hierl, chief marketing officer at Telit Wireless Solutions. ‘It is easy to envision a new growing field of applied science emerging from the success of this project. A broad array of types of connected biosensors deployed everywhere helping people and governments clean up our planet and keep an eye on our environment as the world’s population grows. Telit is proud to be a part of this experiment and this new science.’

Written by Wireless magazine
Wireless magazine

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