Advanced Septic System Nitrogen Sensor Challenge Phase II Prototype Development and Testing
Engineer groundbreaking sensor technology for advanced septic systems
Partner Agencies | Non-federal: The Nature Conservancy, Barnstable County and Massachusetts Alternative Septic System Test Center, Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection, New York State Department of Health (and Suffolk County NY Department of Health Services). Battelle Memorial Institute and VerifiGlobal are supporting US EPA and the Challenge under US EPA Contract
Submission Start: 12/18/2017 10:00 AM ET
Submission End: 07/26/2019 11:59 PM ET
Join the final round of open prototype testing, August 21-27, 2019. EPA will award up to $50,000 in prize money to the best performing sensor prototypes! Download the Testing Application at VerifiGlobal, due July 26, 2019!
Conventional on-site wastewater treatment systems, or OWTS, (also referred to as septic systems) are not designed to remove nitrogen to the extent required for avoiding harmful algal blooms and for protecting and restoring many productive and valuable marine and coastal waters. Successfully removing nitrogen to address these concerns may require use of more advanced technology in OWTS. Regulatory officials recognize the benefit and value of solutions that remove high nitrogen levels but need more confidence in the long-term performance of I/A OWTS technologies before approving their use. Effective long-term management of I/A nitrogen removal OWTS requires data that provides a real- time indication of proper functioning over the lifetime of the treatment system. A sensor which can measure the nitrogen concentration in I/A OWTS effluent coupled with real time reporting would give regulators, managers, communities and homeowners improved ability to assure systems are working properly, optimize their performance, and maintain these technologies over their lifetime, as well as provide the information needed to assess the effectiveness of restoration actions on receiving waters. Cost effective verification of system performance through use of a nitrogen sensor will protect public health and the environment, provide data to confirm and revise estimates of watershed-wide nutrient loadings, allow for more accurate models of nitrogen impact on receiving waters, and offer evidence of reasonable return on investment for homeowners and communities.
The ideal sensor would provide accurate measurement of total nitrogen in I/A OWTS effluent, include telemetry, be self-calibrating or require infrequent calibration, last 10 years, require no more than 1 maintenance visit per year and cost the homeowner less than $1,000. Such an ideal technology may not be possible. At a minimum, a sensor would provide accurate measurement of nitrate (NO-3) and ammonium (NH+4), be easily accessed and maintained (no more than four maintenance visits per year), require infrequent calibration, last 5 years and cost less than $1,500. Because Total Nitrogen is composed of organic and inorganic fractions, measuring NO-3 and NH+4 may significantly underestimate Total Nitrogen. To address this, the near-ideal sensor would measure NO-3 and NH+4, as well as Total Organic Carbon (TOC). The TOC value would be used to estimate Organic Nitrogen using an empirically-derived value of the nitrogen content of the TOC.
Phase I of the Challenge requested submissions of sensor designs having the capabilities discussed above, and awards were given at the June 29, 2017 Sensor Showcase Day.
Phase II, the Prototype Testing Program, is being managed by EPA. EPA selected Battelle Memorial Institute (Battelle) to support the development of a Test/Quality Assurance Plan and Verification Protocol (T/QAP) and oversee the testing of the sensor prototypes. Battelle is collaborating with VerifiGlobal to ensure compliance with the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) Environmental Technology Verification (ETV) Standard - 14034. Phase II testing is being conducted at the Massachusetts Alternative Septic System Test Center (MASSTC), a National Sanitation Foundation (NSF) certified test facility in Barnstable, Massachusetts. Funding for the testing program is from the US EPA Office of Research and Development and the Office of Water/Wastewater Management.
Battelle has convened a Technical Panel to provide the technical input and expertise necessary to develop an effective verification protocol and T/QAP based on the ISO ETV Standard 14034. The Technical Panel includes experts from EPA, US Geological Survey (USGS), the Alliance for Coastal Technologies, the University of Maryland, the New England Onsite Wastewater Training Program at the University of Rhode Island (URI), the MASSTC, onsite regulators from MA and Suffolk County NY, the National Onsite Wastewater Recycling Association (NOWRA – onsite wastewater manufacturers are members of this association), the New York State Center for Clean Water Technology at Stony Brook University, and other university engineering programs.
Phase II Prototype Testing 2019-2020
The first step of the preliminary screening process is a one-week test. It is scheduled to run from August 21 through August 27, 2019, with sensor set up dates of August 19 and 20. For this final round of open prototype testing, EPA will award up to $50,000 in prize money to the best performing sensor(s). This prototype testing is the last opportunity that is open to all sensor developers (not dependent on previous participation) that believe their sensor prototype can meet or exceed the performance goals of the Challenge detailed in the Test and Quality Assurance Plan (T/QAP). Sensor developers that are interested in participating in the one-week test must submit an application which can be found on VerifiGlobal by July 26, 2019.
In addition to the cash prize, sensors which meet the Challenge performance goals will be invited to participate in the one-month screening test, which is tentatively planned for December 2019. Sensors which pass the one-month test will be invited to the six-month ISO ETV 14034 field verification test, which is tentatively scheduled for May through November 2020. Successful completion of the one-week test is the first step to an invitation for subsequent testing.
Timeline for Phase II
- July 26, 2019 – Deadline for submission of testing applications for the August 2019 one-week test. Download the application from VerifiGlobal; submission instructions can be found on the cover page of the application.
- August 21-27, 2019 – One-week test at MASSTC
- October 2019 – Notification of prize & acceptance for the one-month test
- December 2019 – One-month test at MASSTC, by invitation only
- Mid-May – Mid-November 2020 – Six-month ISO ETV 14034 field verification testing at MASSTC, by invitation
- Late February 2021 – ISO ETV 14034 verification reports and statements completed
Sensor Performance Goals
Prize: Verification Report and 2019 Market Stimulation Opportunity
Following the release of the verification reports in early 2019, an external technical panel and The Nature Conservancy (TNC) will review the results. TNC and others are seeking funding for an order of 200 units, not to exceed a total cost of $300,000. The order would be presented in the summer of 2019 to the best performing sensor/s that completes the 6-month field performance test and meets or exceeds the performance goals.
October 2019 – Up to $50,000 in prize money to the best performing sensor(s) from the August 21-27, 2019 prototype screening test and an invitation to the December 2019 one month test.
February 2021 - EPA will award International Standards Organization (ISO) Environmental Technology Verification (ETV) 14034 Verification Reports and Statements for sensors that complete the six-month field testing and meet the minimum performance goals.
The ISO ETV 14034 verification reports and statements will be posted on the VerifiGlobal website. The value of each verification report is approximately $47,268 in testing and verification services. If a sensor technology developer independently approached VerifiGlobal and Battelle and asked for ISO ETV 14034 verification of their sensor, the cost would be close to $100,000 for one sensor without the benefits of the Challenge Phase II Prototype Testing Program.
Summer 2021 - MARKET STIMULATION OPPORTUNITY
Following the release of the verification reports in early 2021, an external technical panel and The Nature Conservancy (TNC) will review the results. TNC and others are seeking funding for an order of 200 units, not to exceed a total cost of $300,000. The order would be presented in the summer of 2021 to the best performing sensor/s that completes the 6-month field performance test and meets or exceeds the performance goals.
Any technology/sensor developer is eligible to apply for the one-week prototype screening test. The application is due on July 26, 2019.
Please visit VerifiGlobal and read the Test/Quality Assurance Plan (T/QAP) for the judging criteria.
How To Enter
July 26,2019: Deadline for submission of testing applications for the August 2019 one-week test. Download the application from VerifiGlobal; submission instructions can be found on the cover page of the application.
Point of Contact
Have feedback or questions about this challenge? Send the challenge manager an email