Partnering opportunity

Solid-state, calibration-free pH sensor to be retrofitted into glass electrodes, or to be developed into new products for water monitoring and oceanography

Summary

A UK startup has developed and is testing in field trials calibration-free pH sensors. This opens up new applications where networked sensors work autonomously over a long period, on a water network or in an ocean. Manufacturers of glass electrodes are sought who are interested in licensing the technology for calibration-free solutions. Also, developers of transducers and sondes, to jointly develop new products under technical and manufacturing co-operation.

Partner sought

Type of partner sought: industry. Specific activity of partner: manufacturers of pH sensors, developers of IoT systems. Role of partner sought: manufacturers of glass electrodes are sought for acquiring the technology under license. Developers of new products and systems such as transducers and sondes for Iot, blue economy, etc. are sought to develop and manufacture new products jointly.

Description

pH sensors have changed little for decades. In many emergent fields they are simply not up to the task. The expensive and fragile glass electrodes need to be manually calibrated on a regular basis, and do not operate in low buffer media. In the world of networked plants and internet of things, they are simply obsolete. A UK startup company has patented and developed solid-state electrochemistry that self-calibrates in situ. No drift has been observed over 4 months in ongoing experiments. The company has started a number of non-exclusive discussions around routes to market but is open to further ones. First, the quicker route to market is using the solid-state chemistry as a retrofit to glass electrodes, fitting in the reference chamber (see the Picture). The main driver is freeing the users of engineer visits that currently typically make up 70% of the cost of a pH sensor. Production prototypes are ready and first in-field trials are imminent with such sensors. The UK company offers the technology to pH sensor manufacturers under license. Similarly, the technology can be introduced in new products. Secondly, there are new applications and even new markets that will benefit from small, affordable, robust pH sensors. On the one hand, these will be solutions for the internet of things. Examples include freshwater and drinking water monitoring in real time. On the other hand, there is already interest from fields such as oceanography. More and more organisations are experimenting with unmanned underwater vessels or swarms thereof that need small and robust sensors. The UK company wishes to have open discussions with developers of transducers or integrators of sondes, for IoT and other markets. The co-operation will include technical co-operation and manufacturing (either in the UK or with the partners).

Advantages and innovations

The innovative pH sensor is based on a voltammetric electrochemical technique which utilizes a pH responding molecule bound within a solid state matrix. This is combined with a novel means of verifying the performance of the reference electrode through an additional in-situ electrochemical measurement, making the sensor calibration free. Besides being cheaper to operate, the drop-and-forget sensors will have an important part in rapidly expanding markets of networked and online water monitoring. On top of freshwater monitoring, the oceanographic monitoring will bring quite new applications.

Development stage

Field tested/evaluated

Intellectual Property Rights (IPR)

Patent(s) applied for but not yet granted


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