Micromata is part of the interdisciplinary research project VAMINAP. The abbreviation stands for “on-site monitoring of pharmaceutical residues, micro and nanoparticles in the effluent of urban wastewater treatment plants by means of photonic methods”.
The unwieldy name stands for the objective of supporting wastewater treatment plants in removing the smallest pollutants. Toxic residues are increasingly polluting our water cycle and pose a serious danger to humans and the environment. In particular, the accumulation of pharmaceutical substances and plastics in drinking water is a considerable risk for the entire food chain. So far, however, there is a lack of easy-to-use analysers, which employees of wastewater treatment plants can use to quickly and reliably read loads on site – especially difficult-to-detect substances such as nanoparticles, microplastic parts and residues from pharmaceuticals.
This is where VAMINAP can help. Using a portable terminal, a final water sample can be taken at the final clarification stage. A particularly fine filter material even absorbs particles that are smaller than 300 microns. The photonic method SERS* then allows detailed information on which micro-particles are contained in the sample.
In the next step, an intelligent software algorithm determines which pollutants can be found in which concentration in the water sample. In addition to statistical methods, artificial neural networks and evolutionary algorithms are used. VAMINAP aims to become much faster and cheaper than conventional laboratory procedures, since the portable devices constitute nothing more than a mobile all-in-one laboratory to take away. Wastewater treatment plants will be able to identify harmful residues more quickly and remove them from circulation.
The project’s affiliated partners at a glance
- GBA Gesellschaft für Bioanalytik mbH – sampling and preparation, coordination
- AirSense Analytics GmbH – instrument development and setup
- Laser Laboratory Göttingen – ramann/SERS analysis and measurements
- Micromata GmbH: chemometric algorithms, machine learning, database
- AMO GmbH: development of the SERS chip
- Dr. Pelzer und Partner – sampling and evaluation of the measurement method
Support from the federal government
The research project VAMINAP is funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) with an amount of EUR 2 million. The funding ratio is 54.9%. The project is scheduled to run from 1 February 2016 to 30 June 2019.
*Surface Enhanced Raman Scattering