Monitoring the Quality of Water Autonomously – Why and How should you do it?

The Big Three are what we all need to survive: air, water and food. Humans are not the only living things that need these three things, every life needs these to survive. However, not everyone is fortunate to be able to have access to have all three, especially water.

Clean water is needed to keep us hydrated, but also in agriculture and food production. Therefore, having a system to measure the quality of the water is essential. In this article, we will be exploring the importance of a water quality measurement system, and how you can have a reliable water quality measurement system for yourself. We will be going through:

  • How is the quality of water determined?
  • Why is the quality of water measured?
  • Introduction to SenseCAP
  • Benefits of SenseCAP sensors for Water Quality Measurement
  • Recommended Tools
  • SenseCAP Application and Case Studies

How is the quality of water determined?

There is a variety of data that needs to be collected for the quality of water to be determined. 

Source: Waste4Change

The data required varies for the different functions that the water is going to be used for. Here are some of the essential and important data.

Potential of Hydrogen (pH) Level – pH level is one of the most important indicators of water quality. The scale runs from 0 to 14 and it indicates the Solidsacidity of the water. A pH of 7 is neutral, while a pH of less than 7 is acidic, and a pH of more than 7 is alkaline or basic. 

Temperature – The rate of chemical and biological processes is influenced by water temperature, as are other measured parameters (e.g. as temperature increases, the maximum amount of dissolved oxygen decreases).

Electrical Conductivity (EC) – The power of water to conduct an electric current is measured by its EC.

Salinity – The dissolved salt content of a body of water is referred to as salinity. The physical characteristics of water, such as density and heat power, are governed by salinity, temperature, and pressure.

Total Dissolved Solids (TDS) – TDS stands for total dissolved solids, which is a measurement of both inorganic and organic compounds dissolved in water. It is proportional to the electrical conductivity of water and can thus be used as a shift indicator.

Why is the Quality of Water Measured?

Water is used for many different functions. It is one of the most essential supply, yet it is a scarce resource in many parts of the world. Clean water cannot be found in many places. Fret not, that is why the quality of water is measured for us to determine its usability.

Here are some of the applications of water quality sensors in different industries! 

Drinking-Water Treatment

Source: Arvia Technology

The quality of drinking water is measured for use to determine whether it is safe to drink or not. Some parameters usually measured for drinking water quality are pH level, Conductivity, Total Dissolved Solids (TDS) and Salinity.

Waste Water Management

Source: Wikipedia

Any water that has been polluted by human activity is referred to as wastewater. Wastewater quality measures are laboratory tests that determine if wastewater is suitable for disposal or re-use. The parameters measured for wastewater depends on what the wastewater is going to be used for. The parameters measured are generally Temperature and Total Dissolved Solids.

Agriculture

Source: Eco-Business

The specification of the water required depends on the different types of crops. Farmers will need to monitor the water quality to ensure that it is ideal for their crops. The parameters usually measured are pH Level, Salinity, Temperature, and Total Dissolved Solids (TDS).

Pollution Management

Source: WIRED

Urbanization and industrialization are taking place in many countries around the world. As a result, rivers are becoming increasingly contaminated as wastewater from households, factories, and other sources flow into them. To improve the water climate, the first step is to collect data on river water quality to determine the level of contamination. The parameters usually measured are Temperature, pH level, Conductivity and Total Dissolved Solids (TDS).

Hydroponics

Source: Roca Gallery

Hydroponics is a form of horticulture and a subset of hydroculture that includes growing plants (usually crops) in an aqueous solvent without the use of soil. Therefore, the quality of water is a significant factor to ensure an ideal environment for the plants. The parameters usually measured are Electrical Conductivity, pH Level and Total Dissolved Solids (TDS). 

Aquaculture

Source: The Fish Site

Aquaculture is essentially farming in water where fishes, shellfish and aquatic plants are bred and raised. Water quality parameters that are common monitored in the aquaculture industry are Temperature, pH Level, Total Dissolved Solids (TDS), Salinity and Electrical Conductivity.

Real-World Water Monitoring Examples – The Current Trends

Currently, Water Monitoring systems are already used in many places. Here are some of the current real-world applications!

Singapore Coastal Water Quality Monitoring System

To calculate the main physical, chemical, and microbiological water quality parameters, Singapore’s National Environmental Agency (NEA) has a network of eight buoy-based water quality monitoring stations along the Straits of Johor and the Straits of Singapore.

Source: Deltares

Real-time data from these stations are constantly transmitted to an operational management system, which monitors and analyses the data to determine whether the water quality has been impacted by oil spills, eutrophication of seawater, and algae blooms, which could affect our fish farms in coastal waters.

South Africa Remote Water Quality Monitoring System

Xstrata Coal South Africa (XCSA), based in South Africa’s Mpumalanga province, operates numerous open-cut and underground thermal coal mining operations.

Source: ott

The company uses Hydrolab and OTT water quality control equipment with remote data transfer options to ensure that their mining activities do not affect the nearby natural water bodies.

Introduction to Sensecap

We’ve established that water is a scarce resource and Water Quality Monitoring systems are essential and used in many different industries to monitor the quality of water. Here at Seeed, we have solutions for water quality monitoring systems with Sensecap!

What is Sensecap?

SenseCAP is a wireless sensing platform developed specifically for Industrial IoT, with applications in smart agriculture, smart cities, and other environmental sensing scenarios. 

As you can see from the graph above, SenseCAP is a Seeed product series that includes an ecosystem of hardware and software services. 

SenseCAP LoRaWAN Series gateways and sensors, Sensor Hub 2G/4G Data Logger & RS-485 sensors, and Meteorological Sensors are currently available in the SenseCAP IIoT collection. In addition to hardware, we provide software and cloud services such as the SenseCAP API, SenseCAP APP, SenseCAP Portal, and SenseCAP Dashboard for easy computer and data management.

Read more about the SenseCAP product line here!

Benefits of SenseCAP sensors for Monitoring Water Quality

There are many different tools available for monitoring water quality. However, SenseCAP sensors come with benefits that make them one of the most recognised product-line from Seeed!

Easy Deployment

SenseCAP sensors only require 4 steps to set up for deployment. 

SenseCAP products aims to be as simple as possible for faster deployment with limited liabilities to maximise its effectiveness. You don’t need a professional to set up a SenseCAP sensor! 

All you need is an Android or iOS device to setup the sensors. Find out more here!

Industrial-grade Reliability

(Photos taken after SenseCAP was deployed in a high-mountain tea plantation for more than a year)

SenseCAP products are designed to be used in the harshest of environments. Above is a picture of a SenseCAP sensor deployed for a year on a mountain with harsh winds and weather changes. The sensor is still running and collecting data like it’s brand new! SenseCAP sensors are industrial grade, which denotes better toughness and resilience!

With SenseCAP sensors, you can be certain that your system will work and gather data for many years to come!

Wireless Hub with High-speed Transmission

SenseCAP Sensor Hub

The SenseCAP Sensor Hub is an easy-to-use, powerful data logger that can be connected to SenseCAP sensors via RS-485 Serial Communication. This Data Hub is, however, able to transmit the data collected wirelessly via 2G/3G/4G to the server. This means that no additional cables are needed to link the sensor hub to the server! Real-time data collection is also possible with the high transmission speed of 4G networks!

This makes it easy for SenseCAP Sensors to be deployed in rural areas for remote data collection. 

Versatility

SenseCAP Sensor Hub

The SenseCAP product line comes with a whole range of different sensors that is able to capture a variety of different data from temperature and humidity, to atmospheric pressure and the different kind of environmental gases. 

Having this means that adding more sensors to collect different data in the future will be a breeze as the sensor hub can be connected with up to 40 different RS485 sensors! This means that you can have all of your sensors on one hub without any interference and issues! SenseCAP will be ideal for projects that require a multitude of data.

Recognised

Over the years since its release, the SenseCAP series has obtained several commendable awards! The most recent one was the Excellent Product Award at China Hi-Tech Fair 2020, where SenseCAP was complimented for its design, technique, and application that makes it a great contribution to IIoT digital transformation in a wide range of domains.

Excellent Product Award – China Hi-Tech Fair 2020

SenseCAP also won the Golden Cotton Award at 2020 Guangzhou World Agricultural Expo. The Golden Cotton Award recognises the “hope” and “success” that SenseCAP has brought to the agricultural industry with its innovation.

Joey Jiang, the General Manage of Seeed Industrial Application Group was invited to give a keynote speech during the Expo to cover “Empowering the Digitization of Agriculture with IoT Technology”. Seeed’s booth and products attracted the attention of many media companies such as SSTV, who also did an exclusive interview with Shuyang Zhou, the Director of Sales at Seeed.

Seeed’s booth at 2020 Guangzhou World Agricultural Expo

Easy Measurements with multi-purpose Sensecap Sensors

Although there are 5 different data that are prominently used to determine the quality of water. SenseCAP sensors are multi-purpose, therefore only three different sensors are needed if you would like to gather data for all five different data!

Conductivity, Salinity, and Total Dissolved Solids (TDS) Sensor

ECTDS10 with Waterproof Aviation Head

This EC & TDS Sensor analyzes a liquid’s conductivity, salinity, and total dissolved solids (TDS). RS485 or Analog Voltage may be used as the output signal. This sensor was designed with industry standards, with a waterproof aviation connector ensuring that it is protected against the elements!

It is designed with automatic temperature compensation (ATC) to ensure the data is accurate regardless of temperature changes. It comes in two versions, one with hook-up wires, and another with a waterproof aviation connector.

Advantages

  • High performance: high accuracy, fast response, good repeatability
  • Wide-range power supply: 3.9V ~ 30V
  • Robustness: suitable to be immersed in water for a long time
  • Durable: anti-corrosion, automatic temperature compensation
  • User-friendly: Easy to install and integrate

Industrial pH Meter/ Sensor 

S-pH-01B with Waterproof Aviation Head

This pH meter measures the hydrogen-ion activity in water-based solutions, showing its acidity and basicity as pH. This pH sensor is designed with industry standards and equipped with a waterproof aviation connector to ensure your connection is reliable. 

This pH meter also has automatic temperature compensation (ATC) to ensure maximum accuracy of the data regardless of the temperature changes! It also comes with two different variations, one with hook-up wires, and another with a waterproof aviation connector.

Advantages

  • High performance: high accuracy, fast response, good repeatability
  • 3.9V to 30V wide-range power supply
  • Robustness: able to withstand prolonged immersion in water.
  • Anti-corrosion and automatic temperature compensation make it a long-lasting product.
  • Pleasant to the user: Installation and integration are easy.

Industrial Soil Moisture, Temperature & EC Sensor

S-Soil MTEC-02B with Waterproof Aviation Head

This sensor can measure the moisture level in soil, temperature and electrical conductivity. It can be used professionally for both in soil and water. It features high precision, dependability, stability, and durability!

This soil moisture is designed with industry standard with a waterproof aviation connector! It is ideal for long-term usage in both soil and water with its IP68 rating. There is two different variations as well, one with hook-up wires, another with a waterproof aviation connector.

Advantages

  • High Performance: high accuracy, reliability, and stability
  • Power supply range: 3.6V to 30V
  • Industrial-grade Robustness: IP68 rated, making it ideal for long-term use.
  • Can be used in soil, water, nutrient solutions, and other substrates.
  • Strong Anti-Interference: Flame-retardant epoxy resin is used.
  • High Durability: anti-corrosion and excellent long-term efficiency.
  • User-friendly: simple to operate, set up, and incorporate

SenseCAP Applications and Case Studies

Since SenseCAP released, Seeed has been helping our clients by helping them to implement SenseCAP products into their systems. Here are some examples and case studies of SenseCAP.

SenseCAP LoRaWAN implemented in MengDing Mountain to Monitor Key Environmental Data

To help tea farmers increase productivity and customer confidence, SenseCAP LoRaWAN products were deployed in high-mountain tea plantations in Sichuan province.

SenseCAP LoRaWAN wireless sensors deployed in Deng’s high-mountain tea plantation

Deng, a millennial farmer who has taken over his family’s passed down 3.3-hectare tea plantation had encountered several problems:

  • Low Planting Density, with high logistical cost
  • Uneve budding, causing low yield
  • Difficulty in replicating the ideal environment for growing tea

Deng decided to embrace the new smart farming technology. Seeed decided to use Deng’s tea plantation as a pilot farm to test Seeed’s SenseCAP solution. A project name “IoTEA” was given for this pilot test, and several SenseCAP products were hastily deployed in Deng’s plantation in the high-altitude Mengding Mountain in 2018.

The sensors deployed were 

With the sensors deployed, Deng was able to monitor the environmental data to constantly alter the environment to replicate the perfect atmosphere for the tea to grow in! Following the deployment, Deng manage to build up a respectable customer base with loyal customers.

Read more about Deng’s story here!

SenseCAP LoRaWAN Contributes to Smart Greenhouse in Shandong

In 2019, Seeed deployed 5 products from the SenseCAP product series to assist a client for their automated greenhouse project.

Fruits that grow in the South such as lemon and dragon fruit have increasing demand in the North. Their prices are also relatively higher in the northern markets. Farmers in the North can make more income if they grow the Southern Produce instead of the usual Northern fruits and crops. 

Our client, farmers from Laiwu in the Shandong province in the Northern region has a greenhouse that grows Southern wax apples. They hoped to have a fully automated system that controls all the fertilization, irrigation and ventilation systems for the crops. 

Seeed deployed several SenseCAP products to help:

Read more about it here!

IP66 Dustproof and Waterproof Testing

All products in the SenseCAP product series are rated as IP66. This means that all SenseCAP products are waterproof and dustproof, suitable for outdoor severe environment. IP66 means that no ingress of dust particles can penetrate the sensor, and water from heavy seas and powerful jets can enter the enclosure in harmful quantities. SenseCAP products are very robust!

SenseCAP deployed at an outdoor triticale farm in Hebei Province, northern China

Seeed did our own tests to further verify and display the ruggedness of SenseCAP products.

Dustproof and Waterproof Test

SenseCAP in the sand and dust test chamber

To test out how dustproof SenseCAP products are, a product was placed in a Sand and Dust chamber running for 8 hours. In that 8 hours, 2kg/m³ density of dust was constantly blown around the product in the chamber. The SenseCAP product passed the test with flying colours with not even a speck of dust found in the enclosure.

To test out how waterproof SenseCAP products are, a product was projected with 100kPa of water pressure at a 3 meters distance with 100 litres per minute. The water pressure was maintained for 3 minutes. Once again, the SenseCAP product passed with flying colours with not a single drop of water found in the enclosure!

Read more about the tests here.

SenseCAP’s Long-Range Proficiency

I’ve constantly mentioned that SenseCAP has long-range communication capabilities. How good is it though?

Here at Seeed, we’ve also experimented to see how far is the long-range communication and how fast will it transmit with a specialised test. Several SenseCAP products including the SenseCAP Gateway was placed in urban areas, non-urban (Forest) areas and an area with a direct line of sight between the SenseCAP product and the data receiver. 

The results were very impressive, with a transmission distance of up to 9.3km in a line of sight environment! Even in rural areas, the transmission distance can go up to close to 2km! 

Read more about the test here!

Summary

Water Quality is a piece of necessary knowledge to ensure that the water you have is safe and ideal for your usage. Water Quality can be known with different data that can be acquired easily with SenseCAP series of products

I hope you enhanced your knowledge about Water Quality and its usage. Check out the different SenseCAP products here! Thank you!

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