PITA Fiscal Year 2015 Projects

Design of an Ion Monitoring Device for Marine Environments

Lead University: Lehigh University
PI: Sabrina Jedlicka, Department of Materials Science and Engineering
Co-PI(s): Susan Perry, Department of Chemical Engineering
PA Industry: EcoTech Marine

A great deal of international attention has been focused at sustaining the health of the world’s marine environments. There are multiple motivating factors driving this increased attention, including environmental protection, food production and economic viability of developing nations, and recreation, among others. Marine water chemistry is considered relatively static with regards to ionic balances, but increasingly, these balances are at risk. For many of the marine ecosystems in nature, disruption of pH and other ionic species can lead to organism demise. While widespread control of seawater chemistry in nature is not practical with current technology, the act of developing an understanding of these dynamics could lead to long-term environmental protection solutions. Therefore, routine monitoring of ocean chemistry could provide data that could be correlated to species diversity, animal health, and overall chemical trends in the ocean environment. The long-term goal of the proposed PITA project is to develop an effective means to monitor seawater ionic balances in an autonomous, continuous manner in a controlled marine environment (aquaculture facility, aquarium, environmental test bed, etc.). The short-term goal associated with this one-year PITA award is to design a set of sensing materials that can detect ion concentration in seawater in a reversible, robust fashion. These materials will then further be implemented into a prototype design for testing and deployment in an enclosed marine system. Future project development would then focus on developing multiple devices for different applications, including: aquaculture farm management, commercial aquariums, home aquariums, researchers, and ultimately large-scale environmental monitoring.