A self-test to check the biological quality of water


A researcher at UCLouvain has developed a paper self-test to analyse water quality. It is a quick and easy process that could be useful in certain circumstances.

Just as self-tests have long been used to establish pregnancy or, more recently, to detect coronavirus infection, the same procedure could soon be used to analyse water quality in just a few minutes.

Grégoire Le Brun, an engineer in nanotechnology and biotechnology, launched this project during his PhD at UCLouvain. The result of three years of research, this rapid self-test for biological water quality is now about to be put on the market. The King Baudouin Foundation is enthusiastic about the project and has just awarded the young researcher the Ernest du Bois Prize, with a promise of funding so he can continue his work.

Practically speaking, a few drops of water are poured onto a nitrocellulose paper sensor and an electro-magnetic measurement detects the presence of bacteria and pathogens. In the future, this simple and very fast process could also evaluate water hardness or its pH or ion content.

This invention should above all facilitate access to information on water quality. It could be particularly useful for populations and companies located in industrialised areas or remote regions, especially in less developed countries, to avoid health risks.

Once it is commercialised, this new process should be in line with the Sustainable Development Goals and also have a strong societal impact.