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Toshiba to Develop Advanced Environmental Monitoring System (AEMS) with Academic Institutions

21 October, 2003


Toshiba's biosensor system detects harmful substances in groundwater
to protect against environmental contamination

AEMS with the provision of biosensor

Tokyo -- Toshiba Corporation today announced that it would provide technical coordination to an international consortium of academic institutions and companies working to develop the Advanced Environmental Monitoring System (AEMS), a total solution for continuous, automated monitoring of groundwater pollutants. Toshiba will support development of AEMS with the provision of "biosensor", the company's patent-pending technology for detecting diverse hazardous substances in groundwater, including pesticides and ions of heavy metals.

The official announcement of the AEMS project will be made by its member organizations on October 28, 2003, at the Photonics East symposium to be held in Providence, Rhode Island, U.S.A.

The newly formed multi-national AEMS project team seeks to bring the know-how of its member organizations to the development and commercialization of a system providing enhanced monitoring and identification of pollutants in the groundwater and subsoil below manufacturing facilities, including pharmaceutical, chemical and food-processing facilities. The project currently brings together 17 organizations in Canada, the U.S., Japan and Australia, including universities, private corporations and government-sponsored research laboratories, and aims for commercialization of AEMS in 2007.

Toshiba will provide the project team with technical coordination and its biosensor as a core component. AEMS is expected to detect and identify leaks of contaminants at source and in real time, in order to support the very earliest deployment of measures to clean up polluted groundwater and soil. The present system of laboratory analysis of samples is both time consuming and accompanied by a high risk of the spread of groundwater contamination.

In practical applications, AEMS will comprise an array of on-site biosensor systems installed near deep wells drilled around a monitored production facility. These wells feed groundwater samples to the systems and provide the means for continuous monitoring of groundwater contamination around the designated area. (Please see the figure below)

These wells feed groundwater samples to the systems and provide the means for continuous monitoring of groundwater contamination around the designated area.

The biosensor is bio-mimetic and consists of two layers of artificial lipid membranes that are used to evaluate the toxicity of chemicals in the groundwater. The membranes generate specific responses to different types of organic compounds in pollutants, allowing identification of hazardous substances. Toshiba has improved the sensitivity of the biosensor to the point where it is now capable of detecting hazardous substances, such as trichloroethylene and nonylphenol, in concentrations as low as one part per billion (10-9 or 0.001mg per liter).

The AEMS initiative was originally developed in Japan as part of IMS (Intelligent Manufacturing Systems) program, promoted by Japanese Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry. Toshiba, Shimizu Corporation, Japan Advanced Institute of Science & Technology, Toyama Prefecture University, Able Corporation, and Toshiba E&I Control Systems Inc have been participating in the program.

Features of Toshiba Biosensor System

Size: 1200mm (height) x 600mm (width) x 600mm (depth)
Detection Level: 1 - 100ppb (equivalent of 0.001 - 0.1mg/liter)
Detectable Substances: Trichloroethylene (volatile organic chlorinated compound)
Nonylphenol (endocrine disrupter)
Simadine (pesticide)
Picture of Biosensor System (Prototype):

Picture of Biosensor System (Prototype)

Mechanism of Biosensor:

Mechanism of Biosensor


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