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East Midlands Chamber News

Future Factory Works On Water Safety Project

Future Factory LogoTesting kits to ensure stored drinking water is safe have been launched by specialist manufacturer DTK Water Ltd following work with scientists at Nottingham Trent University.

DTK Water, formerly Drop Test Kits Ltd, developed products containing chemicals that react and change colour when they come into contact with bacteria.

The company gained access to experts through Nottingham Trent University’s Future Factory, which is dedicated to helping small and medium-sized firms in the East Midlands to improve processes and business practices.

University scientists verified and calibrated DTK Water’s products allowing the company to develop a reliable way to test bacteria levels.

DTK Water’s dipslides and tube tests are specific for the type of micro-organism the customer is looking for. Each micro-organism uses or produces a range of chemicals which are unique to its species.

Using additives that change colour depending on the chemicals they are exposed to, it is possible to differentiate between species and assess if there is a health risk based on the extent of the colour change.

The company, based in Earls Barton, Northamptonshire, uses this technique to grow differently-coloured bacteria.

DTK Water senior microbiologist Curtis Williams said: “Cruise ships are a typical example of our customers. They might desalinate seawater and store it, or simply take on fresh water for consumption during voyages, which is more environmentally sustainable than supplying bottled water for passengers.

“Any contamination could allow bacteria to multiply, which could affect passengers, so the testing kits provide a reliable way to ensure water is safe to drink throughout the journey.

“Nottingham Trent University’s expertise and facilities allowed us to verify and calibrate our results helping us to bring a viable product to market.”

Nottingham Trent University School of Science and Technology’s Dr Michael Loughlin said: “The system was able to detect and distinguish between types of bacteria in a mixed water sample – E.coli and pseudomonas, for example.

“This mimics the environment to be tested where it is unlikely to find a single species of bacteria in isolation.”

The project also included work on a second testing kit to help protect closed-water systems, such as large-scale central heating systems. These kits detect nitrate-reducing bacteria, which can cause corrosion and subsequently leaks, if levels get too high.

Future Factory, formed in 2009, is funded by Nottingham Trent University and the European Regional Development Fund and helps eligible SMEs in the East Midlands design sustainable products and develop sustainable practice and processes.

Services can be offered without charge or at heavily subsidised rates. A £2.2m funding award has secured future and current collaborations until 2015.

With access to expertise and facilities at Nottingham Trent University, as well as graduate placements, Future Factory can also help businesses design out wasteful processes and design in environmentally neutral technologies, materials and alternative ways to re-use or recycle.

To find out more about Future Factory visit www.ntu.ac.uk/future_factory, telephone 0115 8488675 or email ftrfcoynua.kuueatr@t.cu.