U.S. Army Medical Research and Materiel Command Public Affairs Office
504 Scott St.
Fort Detrick, Md.
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Deputy Public Affairs Officer
U.S. Army Medical Research and Materiel Command
For Immediate Release -- July 6, 2015
(Fort Detrick, Md.) -- The U.S. Army Medical Research and Materiel Command signed a patent license agreement with SOLUTION Resources, LLC, July 1, to commercialize the Fish Biomonitoring System, an aquatic biomonitor that detects potentially toxic events by measuring changes in fish behavior.
The FBS, developed by USAMRMC's U.S. Army Center for Environmental Health Research, uses fish and their breathing patterns to detect the presence of potentially toxic substances in water. The FBS employs a team of eight bluegill, also known as sunfish or bream, to provide 24/7 monitoring of water supplies. The eight fish serve a three week "tour of duty" in the monitor, while eight other fish wait on standby to be rotated in. The fish are placed into individual "stalls" separated by a frosted plastic pane. Carbon block electrodes are suspended above and below each fish which captures the electrical signals generated by the muscles in the fish as they breathe (similar to heart rate patterns on an EKG). The device monitors ventilation rate, average depth of signal, cough rate and percent movement, as well as water quality parameters, such as water pH, temperature, conductivity, and dissolved oxygen, which are known to affect the way a fish breathes. The device is also designed to withstand any non-toxic events, such as power or water flow failure, which protect the fish as the work. All of the collected data is converted to electrical signals which are amplified, filtered, and transmitted to a laptop computer where it can be analyzed for changes in the environment. If six of the eight fish start behaving abnormally, the device sends out an alert and begins an automated sampling process to screen the water more thoroughly for toxins. If a toxic threat is determined to be present, personnel are then called in to mitigate the issue.
"This patent licensing continues the innovation of our legacy work with the fish biomonitor technology," USACEHR Commander Col. Thomas C. Timmes said. "We feel that we've found the right fit for this technology transfer and are looking for great things to come."
The FBS can be used at water treatment plants and other water production facilities for monitoring source waters. Water can also be evaluated after it has been dechlorinated. Field testing has demonstrated the usefulness of the FBS in a range of applications, including drinking water protection, watershed monitoring and effluent monitoring.
The FBS is an additional layer of protection to ensure a safe water supply. This patent license will allow SOLUTION Resources to make the FBS early warning capabilities available to any organization needing to monitor their water supply around the clock.
"SOLUTION Resources understands that the need to monitor and ensure that drinking water is safe from acts of terrorism has increased since 9/11," said SOLUTION Resources President David Barr. "This system is already making a difference in several water systems both in military facilities and public water utilities. We are proud to assist the Army with its mission to ensure safe water for the warfighter, as well as the public at large."