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Sensor System to Provide Efficient Monitoring for the Mining Industry

SENSEI Sensor System
Photo Credit: CSIRO

The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), Australia’s national science agency, developed a new groundwater sensor system that will make environmental monitoring faster, more reliable, and less labour intensive for the resources industry.

According to a recent press release, SENSEI is an advanced in-situ sensor system that gives mining operators and water managers real-time data to monitor and manage groundwater impacts efficiently and faster than ever before.

The Problem

  • Mineral processing operations often cannot measure all the chemical properties they need in order to better control their processes.
  • Existing sensors cannot be embedded long term for continuous chemical measurement because they are too fragile, unstable and require frequent removal for calibration.
  • Instead, traditional monitoring of processes, such as leaching, involves taking samples, analysing them outside the process stream and making adjustments accordingly.

The Solution

  • Since SENSEI is a multi-sensor system capable of simultaneously collecting data on pH, reduction potential, temperature and conductivity, it will be replacing labour intensive manual monitoring techniques.
  • Dr Kathie McGregor, CSIRO Research Leader explained that the SENSEI system offers a revolutionary solution to groundwater monitoring methods currently used.
  • It is an automated system that delivers reliable groundwater data in real time, thereby saving companies time and money on labour from traditional manual monitoring approaches.
  • The solid-state multi-sensor array features CSIRO’s patented pH sensor and reference electrode innovation based on advanced sensor chemistry and materials.

Benefits of SENSEI Sensor System

  1. The robust sensor unit can be embedded into groundwater wells and aquifers and deliver continuous data for months without the need for manual calibration or maintenance.
  2. Third-party sensors can also be integrated into the systems attached to the solid-state multi-sensor array.
  3. With real-time analytical capability, the system can provide early alerts so companies can mitigate environmental issues arising in groundwater management.
  4. Data can be accessed immediately onsite or remotely via the cloud, which would provide the user with the capability to detect any anomalies quickly as well as take action as soon as possible.
  5. The system has been built to withstand extreme environments and has already been successfully trialled at a mine in South Australia.
  6. The system’s performance has already been tested in a real-world setting. The team is pleased to report that the system is still operational after almost 12 months of testing in the field.
  7. The system has been designed and tested for use in groundwater monitoring but could be adapted for other applications, which need chemical and physical monitoring in extreme environments.
  8. It helps solve challenges associated with environmental monitoring and resource performance through innovative science and technology.
  9. CSIRO is now looking for partners to bring the technology to market.
  10. A prototype unit will be on display at the International Mining and Resources Conference in Melbourne.
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