Washington Patent of the Month – May 2022

Sampling a water column can give much needed information into the aquatic environment. A normal water sampling protocol involves the manual collection of water samples in the field, transporting the containers back to a laboratory for analysis. This can be incredibly frustrating since the transportation limits the available sample size. Testing at a lab is expensive and can take a long time. Between lengthy processing times and limited sample sizes, water sampling is a process that needs improvement. 

Smith-Root, Inc. has been developing technology for fisheries scientists since 1964. In line with this work, they have developed a water sampling backpack which simplifies the collection process. The backpack can take a particulate sample from any body of water. It has optional-use sterile induction tubes, filters, and electric flow sensors. The user can set the flow rate, pressure, and volume which is then controlled by the backpack. A pump creates a vacuum to draw water into the system. Changes in pump speed can alter any of these parameters. 

The filter system includes both an upper and lower filter. When the vacuum is created, a uniform seal between the water and the filter assembly is formed. The liquid enters the upper filter at a low velocity and decreases in velocity as it moves towards the next filter membrane. Once the desired sample volume is achieved, the vacuum pressure ceases and water stops flowing in. The remaining sample volume passes through the filter and is stored in a sterile pouch.

The backpack makes it easy to walk around and collect samples without needing to tote around multiple containers. It also tracks the exact GPS data for each sample collected, improving metadata gathered. The precision sampling methodology also ensures samples can be replicated for more accurate data analysis with preset, user-defined sampling parameters.

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