Pioneering research by scientists at the University of Surrey (UniS) is proving to be a big hit in Asia when it comes to monitoring land contamination. The Rapid On-Site Toxicity Audit System (ROTAS), a patented technology developed and owned by UniS and licensed to Cybersense Biosystems Ltd, has proved such a success with Hitachi Chemicals in Japan, that the company is now working closely with Cybersense to distribute the product exclusively throughout South East Asia and is also helping to develop production and quality control procedures.
ROTAS is a toxicity test which uses naturally-occurring, light-emitting (bioluminescent) bacteria. The bacteria emit light under normal conditions but in the presence of toxins they glow less, allowing potentially dangerous toxins to be discovered. Such bacteria have been used to test water for several years, but this is the first system which can also test solid substance such as soil. In several cases, ROTAS has also identified the presence of toxins which traditional chemical analysis had failed to detect.
The ROTAS system also has uses here in the UK. With the ever-increasing demand for new housing stock, more and more attention is being paid to ‘brownfield’ sites and ROTAS could be used to monitor and ascertain the safety of these sites.
Stuart Miller | alfa
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