The bacteria sends signal when water is contaminated

It’s high time to change how we think about water quality. Rather than using highly expensive machinery that requires technicians or other highly trained personnel.

Here is a team of young scientists in Canada is developing a fantastic way to sense when water is polluted. It is called the FRED or Field Ready Electrochemical Detector, contains “tunable” bacteria that react in the presence of unwanted substances. The device generates an electrical signal that can be transmitted wirelessly, so you don’t need to be anywhere near a site to know that it’s polluted.

“We genetically engineer bacteria to be responsive to a variety of different contaminants,” says Emily Hicks, one of six entrepreneurs behind the project. “You can leave this box on-site and then from there you can wirelessly monitor remote locations without needing to go there and physically take a sample yourself.”


The technology is essentially contained two components:

  • A cartridge that holds ‘sensing’ bacteria, chemicals, and all of the necessary components.
  • A detector that will read the response from the bacteria and determine the level of contaminant in your water sample.

The results can be viewed on a tablet, computer, smartphone or server via wifi or USB connection. In the meantime, the students also hope to develop a consumer version, so people can monitor well or stream water.


This technology is pushing the limits of what biosensors are capable of.

1) The system is FAST.  In fact, they have demonstrated that they can detect chemicals in minutes.

2) The system is PORTABLE. You can take the system anywhere in the world without the constraints of having to bring a large piece of equipment with you.

3) Installation is INCREDIBLY EASY. Simply place FRED on your body of water, establish a connection, and monitor from your desk!

4) MULTIPLEX YOUR SAMPLE. Biosensor system has the ability to measure multiple toxins simultanously using a single cartridge.  This potential makes the system easy to transition into new markets and opportunities.