CSIRO develops new groundwater sensor system

CSIRO researchers have developed a new groundwater sensor system that it says will make environmental monitoring faster, more reliable and less labour intensive for the resources industry.

SENSEI is an advanced in-situ sensor system that gives mining operators and water managers real-time data to monitor and manage groundwater impacts efficiently and faster than ever before.

Replacing labour-intensive manual monitoring techniques, SENSEI is a multi-sensor system capable of simultaneously collecting data on pH, reduction potential, temperature and conductivity.

CSIRO Research Leader, Dr Kathie McGregor, said the SENSEI system offers a revolutionary solution to groundwater monitoring methods currently used.

“SENSEI is an automated system which delivers reliable groundwater data in real time saving companies time and money on labour from traditional manual monitoring approaches,” Dr McGregor said.

The solid-state multi-sensor array features CSIRO’s patented pH sensor and reference electrode innovation based on advanced sensor chemistry and materials.

The robust sensor unit can be embedded into groundwater wells and aquifers and deliver continuous data for months without the need for manual calibration or maintenance.

Third-party sensors can also be integrated into the systems attached to the solid-state multi-sensor array.

With real-time analytical capability, SENSEI can provide early alerts so companies can mitigate environmental issues arising in groundwater management.

“Because data can be accessed immediately on-site or remotely via the cloud, the user has the ability to detect any anomalies quickly and take action as soon as possible,” Dr McGregor said.

SENSEI has been built to withstand extreme environments and has already been successfully trialled at Heathgate Resources’ Four Mile West mine in South Australia.

“We’ve been able to test SENSEI’s performance in a real-world setting and are pleased to report the system is still operational after almost 12 months of testing in the field,” Dr McGregor said.

SENSEI has been designed and tested for use in groundwater monitoring but could be adapted for other applications which need chemical and physical monitoring in extreme environments.

SENSEI helps solve challenges associated with environmental monitoring and resource performance through innovative science and technology.

CSIRO is now looking for partners to bring the technology to market.

A prototype unit will be on display at the International Mining and Resources Conference in Melbourne this week.