Intelligent water sensing for early warning of COVID‑19 outbreaks

Goodwin, Brett | $50,000

Ontario Fleming College 2020 NSERC College COVID-19 Grant

Monitoring wastewater can be an important tool in Canada’s fight against a second wave of COVID-19. Testing

sewage for the presence of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, before it is treated at a wastewater

treatment plant would provide information about the presence and concentration of the disease in a community,

even if community members are asymptomatic. For this project, Fleming College’s Centre for Advancement of

Water and Wastewater Technologies proposes to collaborate with QuantWave Technologies Inc. QuantWave

has developed a novel, portable microwave-microfluidic sensing system that rapidly detects pathogenic

organisms in liquid matrices without the need for lengthy incubation times. The purpose of the proposed

project is to assess the rapid detection system for use in detecting coronaviruses, a usage that has yet to be

explored, but for which it shows promise. This project will investigate the ability of the technology to perform

liquid fingerprinting analysis and identify the presence of the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus in wastewater. The

ultimate goal is having the technology implemented at wastewater treatment plants across the country to

provide real-time ongoing wastewater monitoring. This type of monitoring can be used as a non-invasive early

warning tool to alert communities to new COVID‑19 infections, as well as provide information about the

extent of outbreaks as they occur or as they dissipate. Installing intelligent sensors to monitor virus levels and

track virus traces in wastewater will enable public health authorities to respond more quickly during the early

stages of the pandemic or signal in the later stages when to proceed with relaxing restrictions.

With funding from the Government of Canada

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