Professor John Bridgeman is pictured with the ‘Duo Fluor’ device, which reveals unsafe sources of drinking water in less than 30 seconds (credit: John James).
Professor John Bridgeman is pictured with the ‘Duo Fluor’ device, which reveals unsafe sources of drinking water in less than 30 seconds (credit: John James).

A team from the University’s Department of Civil Engineering has developed prototype optical equipment which uses water’s natural fluorescence to ‘scan’ the water and highlight pollutants that are present in the sample – almost instantly revealing whether supplies are safe to drink.

The researchers are now working with experts from Oxfam and funding from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council and the Diageo Foundation to refine the instrument design and make it ideally suited to disaster relief and areas of poor sanitation.

Professor John Bridgeman led the team of researchers who developed the device. He said: “Duo Fluor allows water experts to interpret results, but also uses user-friendly technology to allow non-experts to test whether water is safe to drink. This means that people in the poorest communities could help to protect themselves from unsafe drinking water.”

The instrument has a range of potential uses within the global water industry, including: detecting organic and microbial matter in a range of water qualities – from sewage to drinking water; improving process efficiency at water treatment works; identifying potential contamination of service reservoirs and distribution systems; and testing river water quality at abstraction points and treatment works’ discharge points.