Skip to main content

Environmental Monitoring

Environmental Monitoring Research Cluster  EM Current Research Projects

This Cluster covers new approaches for all aspects of environmental monitoring, and associated issues including:

  • On site measurement using sensors both in real time and by sampling.
  • Linking sensors in intelligent networks.
  • Improving and developing laboratory measurement techniques to allow compliance with legislation.
  • The interpretation of laboratory/sensor information to determine environmental risks. E.g. Modelling.
  • Ensuring that sensors are developed to perform continually in operating environments.
  • Development of technology that will allow validation of results against industry required standards which will allow results to be used for meaningful interpretation and for legislative reporting requirements.
  • Development of validation and maintenance protocols to enhance sensor / device performance for long periods of time at their desired use.
  • Development of systems that operate remotely with out the need for maintenance.

The word sensors is used in this document as a generic term which will include but not be limited to the following types of devices:

  • Devices taking direct measurements of determinant of interest.
  • Devices taking measurements by indirect measurements.
  • Devices measuring physical parameters which provide useable data for measurement.
  • Devices used both in situ and those designed to be portable for use on many sites.
  • Devices for the detection of chemical and biological contaminants.

Targetted research topics include:

Contaminated land:

The topic of devices for monitoring contaminated land is broad and there are overlapping technologies with other application areas below. The need of this application requires both total analyte detection and detection of the occurrence of leaching. Field test kits are also desirable that would be developed in line with remote sensing capability. Sensors that assess progress in remediation of land and those that can be used for regulatory control are required and will demand different device sophistication and capability.

Topics might include.

  • Investigation of scale and type of contamination using on site measuring devices.
  • Sensors for use in-situ to provide real time detection of TPH, TEX and other volatiles to be used as an aid to assess clean up effectiveness.
  • Sensors to measure target compounds to provide early warning of spills or leaks.
  • Sensors to measure microbiological indicator organisms during the clean up projects.
  • Toxicity testing.
  • Measurement and assessment of chemicals in soil and plants that produce an environmental risk.
  • Measurement and assessment the microbiology in soil and plants that produce an environmental risk.

Ground water and surface water:


High-risk areas in relation to this topic mean areas that are prone to contamination, areas of importance to regulators and areas that are used for abstraction of water.

Remote detection refers to the use of satellite information for detection of productivity for example.

  • Protection of drinking water supplies using real time telemetry and sensors.
  • Real time telemetry /sensors to monitor to the requirements of the Water Framework Directive (WFD).
  • Specific chemical sensors for use in high risk areas.
  • Specific sensors for the measurement of microbiological contaminants (e-coli, pathogens, enterococci etc.) for use in high risk areas.
  • Measurement and characterisation of pollutants in estuarine and marine locations.
  • Sensors that monitor degradation / remediation indicators (e.g. redox species).
  • Remote detection and quantification of ecological indicator parameters in both freshwater and marine environments.

Waste Water:

  • Early warning sensor networks to be used to monitor discharges for pollution incidents.
  • Sensors for the real time analysis of phosphorus and nitrogen.
  • Monitoring and analysis of the anaerobic digestion technique and discharges.

Air monitoring:

The area of air monitoring is broad encompassing particulate matter, odours, volatiles, criteria pollutants (including also NOx, SOx, ozone) etc. Modelling for air monitoring is also needed and systems will be driven by need for compliance with regulations. It is of interest also to member companies to identify how air monitoring technology can be pushed to meet the measurement requirements e.g. H2S sensing – 1 ppm  TLV / 5 ppm STEL. To do this it is necessary to evaluate if existing equipment can cope with new regulatory moves and to review current techniques against new legislation.

Specific issues in relation to these may include:

  • Real time sensors for the detection and measurement of odours.
  • Measurement of air particulate matter (2.5 mm and 1 mm).
  • Chemical sensors for the detection and measurement of volatiles (light olefins, ethylene etc.) and BTEX.
  • Sensors for the detection of parameters where environmental legislation requirements are beyond what is achievable using existing technology or where improvements in technology will reduce costs or improve efficiency.
  • Sensors for the measurement of deposition as per legislative requirements.
  • Wearable devices that enable real-time occupational monitoring is also a need.

Other areas:

  • Energy sensors for building measurement.
  • Sensors to measure tank/pipeline integrity.
  • Innovative noise sensors.
  • Passive sampling as a monitoring system.
  • Innovative sensors to meet occupational work place measurements as per legislation or where environmental concerns or risks are identified.

Cross segment requirements:

  • Validation of sensors in real time to assess effects of fouling and or effectiveness of anti fouling or continual maintenance systems. System checks and statistical QC/QA techniques to be used as tools for this.
  • Develop technology with regard to legislative requirements.
  • Assimilate data that can be used to aid the formation of future legislation.
  • Technology to ensure resistance to fouling. Cleaning and maintenance regimes.

Sensor sophistication and intelligence:

  • The issue of sensor / device sophistication depends on user need. The device may provide a YES or NO response or a more sophisticated device will provide information on quantity and species present.


Contact Information

The Questor Centre
David Keir Building
Stranmillis Road
Belfast BT9 5AG

Tel +4428 9097 5577
Fax +4428 9066 1462


For google map link click here

Web tools

Bookmark and Share