A-WaMS 2020 Project Update
This has been a unique year with unexpected challenges for everyone. During this time TechWorks Marine and DCU Water Institute were working towards delivering the first phase of the A-WaMS project (Advanced Water Monitoring System). The past year has been a busy and productive time for A-WaMS. With the help of some innovative thinking the DCU development team were able to stride ahead by setting up a range of remote labs. And thanks to strong communication skills across the consortium, the collaborative teamwork that the project envisaged at the beginning endured and fostered a productive phase one of A-WaMS.
DCU have been working tirelessly on optimising the optical sensor. Rapid prototyping technologies such as 3D printing have been used to build the housing components for electronics and optics. Optical components selected cover a wide range of wavelengths from UV (Ultraviolet) to IR (Infrared). From here the team has been evaluating the sensor performance and capabilities and using standards and environmental samples to characterise sensor performance. The team also made use of opportunities to conduct field tests of potential materials to be used in the sensor design. In March, DCU deployed a range of materials to assess anti fouling potential. This was closely monitored to understand fouling progression and what type of species adhere to the surfaces. In parallel, typical marine fouling organisms are be used in the lab to evaluate optical UV LEDs antifouling performance against biofilm formation. At the end of the year, we have the first sensor unit assembled and it is now undergoing lab testing and evaluation.
The TechWorks Marine MiniBuoy has undergone significant development in line with project goals. Bespoke circuit boards have been manufactured with key upgrades to improve GPS features, power monitoring and temperature and humidity monitoring. Additional upgrades have resulted in faster processing times and improved, more reliable, data transfer and communications. By utilising the latest research in IoT sensor systems, the MiniBuoy will be capable of two-way communication with clients. This will allow for clients to implement a highly adaptable and responsive monitoring regime and easily output results through the CoastEye platform. In addition to these upgrades, TechWorks Marine also updated the CPU module on board to allow for faster processing of collected data and to enable the additional of any future features and sensors.
Looking forward, we have very high expectations for 2021. DCU and TechWorks Marine will work together to on the first environmental trial in coastal waters. During this time, we will be evaluating software and hardware performance and making any necessary adjustments and improvements to optimise the monitoring service.
We have all been challenged this year to adapt and re-invent the way we do research and development. We have had to learn how to work as a team remotely, how to communicate our research and ideas more concisely and how to plan ahead – way ahead. We look forward to continuing this growth and innovation well into the future.