Athens, OH 24 February 2014 – With spring semester in full swing, our senior design group has been hard at work with our project. Our project was inspired by the increased use of hydraulic fracturing to obtain natural gas and fossil fuels in the Appalachian region of the United States. Opponents of hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” believe that the process can and will lead to the contamination of groundwater.
My team was assigned with the task of designing a Remote Water Quality Monitoring Device (RWQMD). The purpose of the device is to be placed in a remote ground water well near a fracking site where it will measure a number of water quality metrics including pH, temperature and conductivity of the source. The constraints of the system are that it must generate its own self-sustaining power, collect water quality measurements and transmit that data to an offsite location. To achieve this, my team is developing a solar powered unit controlled by a central micro-controller. The device will take measurements using three connected sensors and will transmit the data using a GSM cellular communications network.
So far we have acquired our sensors, central controller unit and communications module and are currently in the software development and bench-testing phase of the project. Following spring break, we will begin working on our power system and will start assembling the device in its final packaging. The included photos show the current bench model and CAD drawings of what the final device will look like.