Boffins help firm produce water testing kits

editorial image

Kits that test if stored water is safe to drink have been launched by a company from Earls Barton, thanks to help from scientists at Nottingham Trent University.

DTK Water, formerly Drop Test Kits Ltd, developed products containing chemicals that react and change colour when they come into contact with bacteria.

The company gained access to experts through Nottingham Trent University’s Future Factory, which is dedicated to helping small and medium-sized firms in the East Midlands improve processes and business practices.

University scientists verified and calibrated DTK Water’s products allowing the company to develop a reliable way to test bacteria levels.

DTK Water’s dipslides and tube tests are specific for the type of micro-organism the customer is looking for. Each micro-organism uses or produces a range of chemicals which are unique to its species. Using additives that change colour depending on the chemicals they are exposed to, it is possible to differentiate between species and assess if there is a health risk based on the extent of the colour change.

DTK Water senior microbiologist Curtis Williams said: “Cruise ships are a typical example of our customers. They might desalinate seawater and store it, or simply take on fresh water for consumption during voyages, which is more environmentally sustainable than supplying bottled water for passengers.

“Any contamination could allow bacteria to multiply, which could affect passengers, so the testing kits provide a reliable way to ensure water is safe to drink throughout the journey.

“Nottingham Trent University’s expertise and facilities allowed us to verify and calibrate our results helping us to bring a viable product to market.”

The project also included work on a second testing kit to help protect closed-water systems, such as large-scale central heating systems. These kits detect nitrate-reducing bacteria, which can cause corrosion and subsequently leaks, if levels get too high.

Future Factory, formed in 2009, is funded by Nottingham Trent University and the European Regional Development Fund and helps eligible SMEs in the East Midlands design sustainable products and develop sustainable practice and processes. Services can be offered without charge or at heavily subsidised rates. To find out more about Future Factory visit www.ntu.ac.uk/future_factory; telephone 0115 848 8675 or email futurefactory@ntu.ac.uk