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Development of a smartphone camera-based sensor for detection and remediation of chromium pollution in water

Primary Information


Environmental Science & Climate Change

Project No.


Sanction and Project Initiation

Sanction No: F.NO.3-18/2015-T.S-I (VOL III)

Sanction Date: 19/12/2016

Project Initiation date:08/02/2017

Project Duration: 36

Partner Ministry/Agency/Industry

Department of Science and Technology


Role of partner:Funding


Support from partner:15.839 lakhs supported till date

Principal Investigator

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Abhas Singh
Indian Institute of Technology Kanpur

Host Institute


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Samuel Rajkumar
Akvo Development Tools and Services Pvt. Ltd., Delhi

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Rakesh Kumar Jaiswal
Eco friends (NGO)

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Dr Harald Weigand
THM University of Applied Sciences

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Dr. Tim Mansfeldt
University of Cologne


Scope and Objectives

1. Objectives 1) To develop a simple, low-cost, field-deployable smart-phone enabled colorimetric analyzer to reliably detect chromium contamination in water and avoid health risks. Such a detection should be robust and applicable under diverse geochemical conditions with minimal interferences. 2) To target mitigation of hexavalent chromium from polluted groundwater by developing a low-cost robust chromate removal process, employable at the individual household scale. 3) To make above technologies acceptable to affected stakeholders by enabling people participation in monitoring and treatment of polluted waters at the community and household-levels in an identified contaminated area plagued by historic chromium pollution.


A community-level low cost robust Cr detection and treatment method will be demonstrated at the field-scale and delivered to the community. This proposal seeks to refine and implement Cr detection method for a range of Cr(VI) concentrations in different types of water matrices, accounting for various possible interferences from total dissolved solids, salinity, pH, etc. The proposal also targets integration of the detection method with Cr(VI) remediation technology based on ferrous sulfate removal technique. Specifically, it would suggest the dosage of reductant needed to achieve a desired removal. It would directly benefit the rural households and would be of interest to municipal water agencies and other NGOs fighting against chromium-laden water pollution at other sites. Specifically, the deliverables can be listed as: 1. Prototypes for testing of chromium under diverse matrices 2. Android app for estimating reductant dosage for treatment 3. Designs for manufacturing


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Scientific Output

A publication titled - Smartphone-based portable and low-cost field monitoring tool for hexavalent chromium in groundwater- is under review in a high impact journal, with the following authors Bamane S. D., Bhojwani, V., Balkunde P.L., Bhattacharya, M., Gupta I., Mohapatra A.K., and Singh, A. 1 MTech thesis completed in June 2018


Results and outcome till date

1) 100 prototypes of the portable Cr(VI) monitoring tool have been developed for testing of chromium under diverse matrices


Societal benefit and impact anticipated

Since the expected deliverables are easily employable at the household-level, rural communities suffering from chromium pollution for close to two decades will be the first targeted users. Some of these areas have active NGOs that would be interested in using the detection and treatment methods, with the ability to screen drinking water sources and target suitable treatment. Many of these areas are periodically sampled by governmental bodies like Jal Nigam, who may be interested in buying the Smartphone-based detection method. Government agencies like CGWB, CPCB and other NGOs may also be interested upon the success of this project.

Next steps

Our first objective is almost complete. We have already developed hundred such analyzers and we are in the process of making them more robust under diverse matrices. As per comments received in the mid-term review, we have been developing the monitoring capabilities for surface water and sites with multiple pollutants along with Chromium. Also, working on objectives 2 and 3 as planned.

Publications and reports

A publication titled - Smartphone-based portable and low-cost field monitoring tool for hexavalent chromium in groundwater- is under review in a high impact journal, with the following authors Bamane S. D., Bhojwani, V., Balkunde P.L., Bhattacharya, M., Gupta I., Mohapatra A.K., and Singh, A.



Scholars and Project Staff

In this collaborative project, Tathagata Bandyopadhyay has been appointed by IIT Kanpur for work related to Cr(VI) removal from groundwater. This work will also contribute towards his MS(Research) thesis. The smartphone development and Cr(VI) survey work is being pursued by an MTech student Aditya Shekhar after a dual-degree student Vinod Bhojwani recently graduated in June 2018 after woring towards his M.Tech. thesis. A part of these studies is also supported by a PhD student, Mainak Bhattacharya, in Dr Abhas Singh's research group. Both Aditya and Mainak are funded directly through Institute MHRD scholarships. Our NGO partner, EcoFriends, have appointed Piyush Jaiswal for this project to help assist with field surveys and interface with the village community. Our industry partner, Akvo, has leveraged specific time of their regular employees, Sushant Bamane, Pradeep Balkunde, Ishan Gupta and Samuel Rajkumar towards various tasks related to smartphone application, process development, prototyping, product and industrial designs. EcoFriends and Akvo entered into an MoU with IIT Kanpur through which they periodically raise invoices for their manpower and consumable costs and are paid as per the allocated budgets.

Challenges faced

Exhausted buget under consumable, contingency, and others heads; Request to reallaocate funds from manpower (6 L) to consumables (4 L) and contingency (1 L) and Others (1 L).

Financial Information

  • Total sanction: Rs. 0 

  • Amount received: Rs. 0 

  • Amount utilised for Equipment: Rs. 378920

  • Amount utilised for Manpower: Rs. 756536

  • Amount utilised for Consumables: Rs. 1709600

  • Amount utilised for Contingency: Rs. 166488

  • Amount utilised for Travel: Rs. 132867

  • Amount utilised for Other Expenses: 45800

  • Amount utilised for Overheads: Rs. 774800

Equipment and facilities


Multiparameter pH meter 0.4998 Casa XPS Software 1.03212 Topas-Academic Software 1.24122 pH Meter 0.20895 Magnetic Stirrers 0.25 Survey Meter 0.85 Total Cost 4.289

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