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Home owners with swimming pools in their backyard are being urged to take note of a new microchip that aims to make the asset safer.
The University of South Australia, in partnership with electronics research and manufacturing company Tekelek Australia, has developed a microfluidic chip that makes monitoring swimming pools more affordable and more reliable.
The microchip enables continuous monitoring of pH and chlorine levels in swimming pools and aims to vastly improve water safety and hygiene.
“Pool chemistry keeps swimmers safe from viruses and bacteria, yet getting it right takes a lot of effort,” Associate Professor Craig Priest said.
“Backyard swimming pool management would be a lot easier with a continuous and automated water quality sensor that can reliably measure accurate chlorine and pH levels all summer.
“The sensor that we’ve developed is essentially a ‘lab-on-a-chip’ – a network of microscopic pipes running through a credit card-sized chip. The chip quickly and continuously does all the work of a chemistry laboratory using tiny amounts of chemical, without leaving the poolside.”
For pool owners, the associate professor noted, this removes the arduous task of manually testing swimming pools and avoids overuse of pool chemicals, “which saves time, money and, most importantly, the risk of infection from incorrect pool chemistry”.
“Many of the domestic pools samples showed flaws in manual pool testing,” he said.
“One family’s swimming pool was seriously overdosed with chlorine, yet they had no idea. Having just bought their home, they did a quick water check at the local pool shop and were told that there was ‘enough’ chlorine in the water but didn’t show that there was actually too much.
“A few weeks later, the chlorine level dropped to zero, which not only highlighted a problem with the chlorinator, but also showed how quickly pool chemistry can become unsafe.”