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NCCOS Project

The Environmental Sample Processor – Making it More Affordable and Easier to Use

This project began in January 2011 and was completed in December 2015

We are re-engineering the design of the Environmental Sample Processor (ESP), one of the first available in-water sensors to measure harmful algae, their toxins, and other parameters in near real-time and transmit data to shore. The ESP has been proven for multiple sensing applications and is recognized for its promise in advancing ocean observing and forecasting yet design improvements are needed to encourage wider use.

Why We Care
Our ability to design and deliver accurate, reliable, and cost effective early warnings and forecasts of harmful algae blooms (HABs) will be revolutionized by new, automated, in-water biological sensors nearing or, as with the ESP, just entering the market. Public-private partnerships remain critical to speed sensors into widespread use by operational ocean observing and forecasting systems.

NOAA recognizes the potential for ESPs as critical to its operational HAB forecasting and observing system plans and continues to invest in refining deployment strategies, designing optimal ESP networks, and expanding the number of in-water tests (or assays) that detect algae, toxins, pathogens, and other marine biota.

This private sector partnership project enables NOAA and our regional partners to re-engineer the ESP design in order to benefit from its full potential. It also demonstrates a viable pathway to expand adoption of other marine sensors soon to be commercially available.

What We Are Doing
We are making design modifications to ESP hardware and software to make units more affordable, robust, reliable, and applicable to users in government agencies, the shellfish and aquaculture industries, and university labs. The lead, McLane Research Laboratories (MRL), the exclusive manufacturer of the ESP, is rigorously testing the current ESP instrument to measure and document its operational limits. MRL is also exploring potential design changes that would reduce costs to build, buy, and operate the ESP while maintaining or improving its biological detection and operational capabilities.

MRL and its unfunded collaborators, including Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI) and the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI), are uniquely qualified to conduct this research and quickly implement the results to achieve the goals of the project. MRL is the exclusive manufacturer of the ESP that is licensed from Spyglass Biosecurity.

Mr. Ivory Engstrom (MRL) is the lead scientist. Unfunded collaborators include the inventor of the ESP, Dr. Christopher Scholin (MBARI); HAB expert and current funded ESP user, Dr. Donald Anderson (WHOI), and the CEO and founder of Spyglass Biosecurity. The team will regularly consult with a Transition Advisory Committee made up of resource managers, engineers, scientists, and other ESP users, tapping their expertise and experiences to help guide project outcomes. This is part of the Prevention, Control, and Mitigation of Harmful Algal Blooms (PCMHAB) program.

Benefits of Our Work
The results of this project will provide greater accessibility of the ESP to more widespread user groups, greatly improving capabilities for monitoring and managing HABs in marine and freshwater systems and ultimately mitigating the economic and health impacts of these phenomena. This project will also demonstrate a pathway to expand adoption of other marine biological sensors soon to be commercially available.

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NCCOS delivers ecosystem science solutions for stewardship of the nation’s ocean and coastal resources to sustain thriving coastal communities and economies.

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