Fabrication of smartphone-based colorimetric device for detection of water leaks

  • Zodidi Gcolotela Department of Chemistry, Durban University of Technology, PO Box 1334, Durban 4000, South Africa
  • Stanley Chibuzor Onwubu Department of Chemistry, Durban University of Technology, PO Box 1334, Durban 4000, South Africa
  • Sindisiwe Fortunate Muthwa Department of Chemistry, Durban University of Technology, PO Box 1334, Durban 4000, South Africa
  • Phumlane Selby Mdluli Department of Chemistry, Durban University of Technology, PO Box 1334, Durban 4000, South Africa
Keywords: chlorophenol red, microfluidic device, water leaks, QR codes, real-time

Abstract

South Africa is a water-scarce country due to the shortage of rainfall.  This scarcity is further exacerbated by the loss of water through leakage from faulty pipes. This paper reports on the use of a simple microfluidic device in the early detection of water leakages. The microfluidic paper-based device (µPADs) were prepared by printing patterns of wax (100 μm width) on the paper surface and melting the wax into the paper to form hydrophobic barriers. Solutions of lower to higher pH were also prepared and were introduced to the chlorophenol red test strips and a range of colours from yellow (lower pH) to purple (higher pH) were obtained. The digital images obtained with the μPADs were analysed using the CIELab colour system. The optimized pH range was wider than the typical grayscale-based image analysis and was successful for a wide pH range of 2–12. The QR codes attached to the strips enable tracking to obtain the real-time location from which leakage was detected. The study conclusively shows that the combination of digital image analysis and a μPAD device is highly efficient for quantitative analysis, and thus useful for the detection of household water leaks.

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Published
2021-04-29
Section
Research paper