Proteus water sensor for realtime detecting e.coli bacteria in rivers

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The Proteus is a new sensor for Plug&sense! Smart Water Xtreme. This multi-parameter probe uses fluorescence to monitor BOD, COD, TOC and Total coliforms (and variations there upon) in real-time. It provides users with a robust, repeatable, low maintenance sensor platform for measuring coliforms in real-time, no lab needed, including E. coli bacteria. It is useful for applications in drinking water, bathing (marine and fresh), waste and industrial water treatments.

E.coli or fecal coliforms are probably the most important water quality parameters there are for recreational water areas such as rivers, lakes, water parks or marine bathing waters. Also, since E. coli causes serious diseases is crucial monitoring it in wastewater treatments drinking water systems, desalination plants, farms, irrigation system and other possible contaminated water areas for population, agriculture and animals.
Proteus sensor for detecting coliforms
The Proteus is a multi-parameter instrument that can incorporate a range of optical sensors for many types of applications. The state of the art monitoring platform incorporates the latest technology to provide accurate, reliable and minimal maintenance monitoring of Biochemical Oxygen Demand (BOD) and Dissolved Organic Carbon (DOC).

It can be used as a unique sensor, because monitors in automatic remote. It is based on UV, fluorescence and turbidity technology sensors.

An algorithm combines everything and estimates the number of bacteria per cm³ which offers a great competitive advantage because, until now, the only way is to take a bottle to lab, with all its costs.

Technology behind Proteus

The Proteus provides a reading for total coliforms, based on the detection of Tryptophan-like fluorescence (TLF). TLF is comprised of molecules which contain tryptophan and substances that fluoresce on the same wavelengths.

The link between TLF and coliforms has been proven within science literature with regard to both Thermotolerant coliforms (TTCs) and enteric pathogens such as E. coli.

Total Coliforms

The Proteus will detect ‘active’ coliforms i.e. healthy and therefore actively fluorescing. In addition, the sensor is able to detect more ‘Viable But Non-Culturable Bacteria’ (VBNC) than traditional methods.

VBNC bacteria are bacteria that exist in a stressed state, unable to be cultured but still likely to be pathogenic. VBNC Detection is made possible as some, such as E. Coli, still release tryptophan when under nutrient limited conditions.


  • River pollution monitoring
  • Pollution source tracing surveys
  • Bathing water monitoring
  • Borehole / well monitoring
  • Reservoir monitoring
  • Combined Sewage Overflow (CSO) event detection
  • Monitoring clean water systems for coliform ingress

Key features

  • Real time – 1 sec minimum intervals
  • Simple Installation – Permanent or temporary can be hand held or suspended directly
  • Self-cleaning – low maintenance
  • Low cost of ownership – simple, self checking calibration once per year
  • High accuracy – digital and optical sensors
  • Go anywhere – Connected, standalone logger or hand held capability
  • Low Power – Internal battery pack, USB or DC
  • Connectivity – PC, SCADA, MODBUS, PC, Bluetooth
  • Multiparameter – up to 32 parameters on one instrument.
  • Portability – 5kg/10lbs

Libelium’s engineers have already integrated these sensors in our water solutions. If you have a smart water project in mind, please, contact our sales team.