Instead of collecting samples to take back to the lab, the portable SST can easily be taken to the testing site and provides test results in a matter of minutes. A soil sample extract is mixed with a sample of bioluminescent bacteria, vibrio fischeri, which naturally produce luminescence. "It's a non-genetically modified, natural organism we weren't allowed to use GMO in the EUREKA project. So it's perfectly safe - it comes from the sea," says Bell.
If a soil sample is toxic, the micro-organism dies and the instrument detects the change of luminescence and measures it on the toxicity scale. The test will thus pick up the combined toxic effect of even small amounts of toxins in the soil, which would not have been picked up by chemical testing.
With tests taking only 12 to 15 minutes per sample, the SST device could be used to find out in less than a day whether a field contains carcinogenic toxins, and map precisely where the hot spots of the pollution are. Simply put, it saves time and money.
Apart from being crucial for getting the SST project off the ground, EUREKA also helped link Crown Bio Technology with an important EU verification programme and their biggest customer. The device is among the first to be approved under the EU Environmental Technology Verification (ETV) programme. This recognition was a boon to Bell's business, as people take the device more seriously now that it is EU-approved.
The main buyers of the kit are National Environmental Agencies, large industry users and their contractors, property developers and consultants. The biggest buyer so far is UK Power Networks, a company that operates almost 80,000 electricity transmission sites across England where, because of the use of oil, they have to monitor and clean
|Contact: Piotr Pogorzelski|