Why we monitor chlorophyll? The value of the AlgaeTorch

13 April 2011

Chlorophyll is a photosynthetic pigment produced by plants and algae.  In bodies of water, measurement of the chlorophyll levels tell us how much algae (biomass) is present, on a relative scale.  Chlorophyll is usually measured in the laboratory, on samples of chlorophyll extracted from (obviously) dead algae.  This method does not provide any indication of the types of algae present.

AlgaeTorch being used to monitor a lake for cyanobacteria

The new AlgaeTorch technology (see below on this blog)  has changed all this.  Used as a first line of defence, this instrument measures the chlorophyll directly in the body of water, from LIVING algae.  Even more important is that the device can distinguish between potentially harmful algae (cyanobacteria) and non-problematical (green algae). So, instead of having to wait for samples to get to the lab and be analysed, resource managers can now determine (with 90-95% accuracy) what is happening in the dam, lake or river – and hence what they need to prepare for should they need to take mitigating measures to protect consumers.

In a modest monitoring operation, the AlgaeTorch, compared against conventional sampling and analysis, will pay for itself in less than a month!

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