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An Autonomous & Self-Sustained Sensing System to Monitor Water Quality

Project #: 4W1570
Start Date: 05/01/2007
End Date: 06/29/2009
Status: Completed

As a major source of the non-point source pollution, highway runoff has adverse effects on the adjacent aquatic resources if no measures are taken to remove the excessive contaminants accumulated from highway construction, operation and maintenance. Highway runoff often carries sediments, nutrients, heavy metals, petroleum-related compounds, deicers and other chemicals before it reaches the receiving water body. To comply with water quality regulations and minimize adverse environmental impacts of highway operations, state departments of transportation need accurate and cost-effective methods to monitor water quality along roadways. A multi-disciplinary team from Montana State University is developing a self-sustained system, using novel devices (such as microbial fuel cells (MFCs)), in conjunction with sensors, microcontrollers and transceivers, to in situ monitor and collect real-time measurements for continuous water quality monitoring. The system will be capable of measuring chloride, pH, dissolved oxygen, and temperature for the specified location. The project will be conducted in multiple stages. Stage 1 (Tasks 1-6 below) will consist of overall system design, as well as design and selection of each component. In Stage 2 (Tasks 7-9), the team will move on to fabrication of components, and in Stage 3 (Tasks 10-11), assembly and testing of the system.


The objective of the project is to design and develop an autonomous, in situ, self-sustained water quality monitoring system for safe, reliable, timely, and efficient measurements of water samples near highways to assess impacts of highway construction and operations.


  • Xianming Shi
    Xianming Shi
  • Hongwei Gao
    Hongwei Gao