Simple, straightforward and effective - Aquatest is a small, single-use device for testing microbial water quality. It can be used in a conventional incubator within a laboratory setting. However, additional components include an incubator and UV lamp for reading results to deliver lab-quality testing wherever it is needed including remove field settings.
The tester goes into the field and collects 100ml of sample water directly into the Aquatest device. Shaking mixes the selective growth medium with the sample. A twist of the lid separates it into chambers on the bottom of the device for incubation.
To ensure the integrity of the test, the unit is self-contained, featuring waterproof sealing and a one-turn lock mechanism. After 24 hours of incubation at 37°C, the chambers are checked under a handheld UV lamp, and the number of chambers fluorescing indicates the level of E.coli contamination.
The more chambers that fluoresce, the greater the contamination.
Once testing is complete, built-in disinfectant is released to ensure safe disposal.
E.coli grow best at around body temperature (37°C). If the temperature drops too low growth is slow; too high and the E.coli might die. The Aquatest incubator ensures neither is an issue. Low cost, reusable and weighing just 2kg, the incubator simply requires a single charge of boiling water, rather than a constant source of electricity to maintain a steady temperature. And this is its great advantage over conventional incubators. Even when they are powered by mobile solutions such as car batteries, they have not always perform adequately in field settings.
The Aquatest UV lamp is a safe, simple-to-use, handheld ultraviolet light that reads the results from the Aquatest device. It is portable and rugged for use in field settings. Low-power UV LEDs, orientated so that they shine directly into the chambers, guarantee user safety and provide enough illumination to easily identify positive chambers. The design limits the entry of external light and maximises the brightness of the UV LEDs, creating a mini ‘dark room’. Within the confines of its ‘dark room’, the UV lamp shows how many chambers inside the Aquatest device have tested positive for the presence of E.coli. The greater the number of positive chambers, the greater the level of microbial contamination in the drinking water.
Aquatest can also be allied to an optional Water Quality Reporter (WQR). A mobile phone application for recording, storing and transmitting results, it will ensure the right people receive the right data to take the right action – even when they are miles from the site of the testing.
The Aquatest video ‘Bringing safe water testing to its source’ demonstrates the positive impact that the device is having on communities currently participating in our Early Adopter pilots. Oxfam is one of the first organisations participating in Aquatest pilots in Bangladesh, Kenya, Somaliland and the DRC. Commenting on the initial findings of these pilot studies, Andy Bastable, Head of Water & Sanitation at Oxfam, says "We're delighted that the Aquatest project has come up with this device - it's a considerable improvement on existing technologies."
The ‘Aquatest in action’ video demonstrates the time and cost-saving benefits that Aquatest can deliver and how the device will perform in the field.