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Mobile Continuous Low-flow Water Sample Collection System

This sample collection system is an innovative, low cost system that improves the way waste water sampling is conducted

Published: 16th June 2022
Mobile Continuous Low-flow Water Sample Collection System
Source: aquatarkus,,


This mobile continuous low-flow water sample collection system provides a low cost solution for remote sensing of pathogens and pollutants in wastewater. This technology was first implemented at the University of Colorado Boulder to detect for Covid-19 in the university’s waste water. The low cost device was able to collect localized measurements of Covid-19 in waste water, providing the university with specific data on which areas of the campus were having spikes in Covid-19. The low cost and mobile nature of this technology allows the users to deploy several units at remote sites that don’t have access to a local power supply. The granularity of this data provides unique insights to users looking to better understand how pathogens and pollutants are distributed throughout a waste water system. By having several remote devices continuously sampling waste water a new way of analyzing waste water data can be implemented. While current solutions do exist, the high cost of these devices, and their need for external power, often make them infeasible for a system with a multitude of sampling locations. Covid-19 testing provided a great proof of concept but this is just one application that can benefit from the localized data produced by a system of remote sample collection devices. This technology can be adapted to detect a variety of potential analytes. In addition to Covid-19 the device has already been validated to test for common water indicators, nutrient profiles, the presence of other organisms, trace organic chemicals, and hazardous exposure materials. We believe full scale commercialization of this technology will have a significant impact on the way municipalities and other institutions collect, analyze, and make decisions with waste water data.

Technology Overview

The Mobile continuous low-flow water sample collection system is an innovative, low cost system that improves the way waste water sampling is conducted. For applications like waste water epidemiology the continuous nature of the sampling allows the capture of pathogens that may only be present in the waste water at specific times and would not be captured by periodic sampling. The continuous and low flow aspect of the device are key elements of the claims outlined in a provisional patent filed in August of 2021.

The critical components of the system are a low flow pump, an insulated chamber that holds the sample reservoir and keeps it cool, a strainer specifically designed to operate in a low flow waste water environment without getting clogged, and the necessary power supplies to operate the system off grid using either solar or battery power. The system can then be deployed at remote manholes to continuously sample the waste water and store it in a temperature controlled environment until the composite sample can be collected and tested for the pathogens of choice.

Figure 1 shows the internal components of the system as well as the system in operation at a manhole cover. This system has been successfully implemented at the University of Colorado Boulder and Colorado Mesa College in it’s operational environment. This would put the technology at a TRL of 7.

This technology has been successfully implemented at the University of Colorado Boulder and Colorado Mesa College in it’s operational environment. Researchers at UC Berkley are currently working on implementing these devices around their campus as is the city of San Bernardino. This technology has been tested in the field and has reliably collected samples and met user requirements. Additional development will be needed in order to offer a fully commercial product to market. The primary development still needed is to select final components with additional cost reduction in mind, and develop the supply chain and manufacturing to reliably produce these at scale.


  • Low cost, the system strips out all unnecessary features and achieves the user requirements of municipalities and institutions for composite waste water sampling.
  • Continuous sampling provides better data for waste water epidemiology than periodic sampling. Pathogens that might only appear for a short window of time are captured in the composite sample and the user can make informed decisions sooner.
  • Strainer technology allows long term sampling in low flow waste water environments. Initial designs were not able to operate over long time periods without additional maintenance due to clogging.
  • Ability to operate remotely. The system has low power requirements and is set up to run on batteries or off grid solar power. This is an advantage over other more complicated systems that may need grid power to operate and as such reduce their effectiveness in a system with a multitude of remote sampling locations.


  • The primary use case will be for municipalities and institutions like universities that want to implement a waste water epidemiology system.
  • Nursing homes can use this technology for a rapid warning system to test whether infectious diseases are detected in their waste water to improve response times
  • This system can also be used in any other applications that require the continuous sampling of low flow fluids at remote sites


The team is looking for licensing partners as well as development and research partners. There is not a start up company built around this technology and the CU Boulder researcher does not have interest in actively running the sales of these devices. The researcher is willing to continue work on this project through his lab so the University is open to any sponsored research in addition to a potential licensee.

IP Status
  • Provisional patent
  • Licensing
  • Commercial partner