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World-first technology offers breakthrough in water quality testing

Joe Bevan
Authored by Joe Bevan
Posted: Thursday, May 2, 2024 - 16:33

A University of Plymouth spin-out has developed technology that allows water quality to be assess “in a matter of minutes” for the first time, the company claims.

The Bacterisk technology from Molendotech gives an accurate running water quality assessment in the field for the first time, with results available in just 15 minutes. 

Historically, water quality testing has taken up to 48 hours and required testing in a laboratory. The Bacterisk kit is portable and can be carried in a briefcase, allowing water utilities and other stakeholders to rapidly and accurately assess water quality on the spot. 

Bacterisk uses patented endotoxin detection technology, cutting out long waits involved in lab testing as well as avoiding the dangerous practice of growing live bacteria. The new technology also offers more accurate testing than standard methods, which focus on assessing the presence of E.Coli and Enterococci only. Bacterisk technology also capture and inform of the risk other pathogens that cause diseases that are on the rise, such as Weil’s Disease (lepto) and typho (salmonella) plus Vibrius Vulnificus (flesh eating bacteria) in any running water. 

The roll-out comes at a time when hospital admissions for waterborne diseases in England are up by 60%. Chief Medical Officer, Professor Chris Whitty, has recently described sewage in water as “a growing public health problem”.

Molendotech Ltd was founded in 2018 by Professor Simon Jackson, who discovered the potential that endotoxin detection technology held as a quick risk assessment for water quality. Jackson has a background in immunology research into sepsis, and the breakthrough came when he was conducting medical research. Molendotech now works out of two University-managed facilities – the Brixham Laboratory in Devon and the Health and Wellbeing Innovation Centre in Truro, Cornwall. 

Uses for Bacterisk are expected to be wide -ranging and Molendotech is currently in talks with water boards, action groups and the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (Defra). 

Professor Simon Jackson, Founder and Chief Scientific Officer at Molendotech, said: "The roll out of Bacterisk will mean a breakthrough in water quality monitoring and is something both the water industry and stakeholders need. Having portable, real-time assessments of water quality will allow the development of meaningful water quality maps that users and regulators can use to inform decision making and guide practices.” 

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