Droxin: in situ instant water toxins and pollution monitoring system

Characterize toxins and pollution in water, within minutes, to prevent further contamination, with advanced UAV and biosensor technology.

Photo of Zhengda Lu
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I confirm that I am fully aware of the eligibility criteria, and based on its description, I am eligible to apply to the CSV Prize 2017.

  • Yes, I'm eligible

Preferred language

  • English

Organization name


Year founded


Initiative stage

  • Start-Up (a pilot that has just started operating)

Annual budget in 2017 (USD)

  • $50k - $100k

Number of beneficiaries impacted so far

  • 50 - 100

Organization type

  • For-profit

Secondary Focus Area

  • Nutrition

Headquarters location: Country

  • United States of America

Headquarters location: City

Ithaca, NY

Location(s) of impact

USA: Ithaca, NY China: Shanghai

Problem: What problem is this initiative trying to address?

Pollution caused by toxin such as pathogen, organic/inorganic contaminants accounts for more than 14,000 deaths daily. Conventional monitoring on water toxin requires heavy human resources, professional and expensive lab equipment, but can hardly be processed timely (e.g. toxins contaminated drinking water before detected), especially for resource-limit area. In all, both developing and developed countries struggle with acute problems of water pollution.

Solution Summary: What is the proposed solution? What do you see as its most promising aspects for creating shared value?

Inspired by advances in biomedical sensors and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV), we developed the Droxin system, which automatically locate water bodies that suspicious to pollution, as well as take and analyze water sample on the Droxin platform immediately. Overall, the platform reduces costs, in both financial and time, for water toxins monitoring by about 20 times, and can be operated by personnel with no or minimum training. Implementing the platform will dramatically reduce health burden in area subject to acute water pollution, creating significant value in improving health status in related area, The platform consist of a drone programmed with convolutional neural network that recognize water body with potential pollution. And sensor detects toxin when dipped into water. Internet of Things (IoT) functions is inherited thus the platform would provide instant water quality monitoring continuously.

Impact: What is the impact of the work to date? Specify both the social and the environmental impact of your work

Water pollution is the leading worldwide cause of deaths and diseases, and that it accounts for the deaths of more than 14,000 people daily. However, monitoring on water quality at scale larger than cities are time costing so that time results can hardly be obtained. For example, in the United States, the most recent national report on water was done in 2009 and probably outdated. Field test show the Droxin system have significant impact in areas of the world with high instances of acute water pollution, because for most acute water pollution, timely intervene has been shown to significantly reduce potential health issues. We showed that the system achieved high sensitivity for pathogen (Salmonella) and organic (mycotoxin) pollution in a recent tests, which is important in large scale screening test for micronutrient deficiency.

Financial sustainability plan: How is this initiative financially supported? How will you ensure its financial sustainability long-term?

The initiative is supported by corporate contributions. The system is sold to both government and social organizations that demands monitoring water quality. As Droxin system dramatically reduces human resources required in water pollution control, it reduces barrier for organizations to achieve high quality water monitoring data. Also since manufacturing and operation the Droxin platform cost much lower than similar technologies, the project can be support by sells earning. Out of the annual budget, 90% is from company earning incomes, and 10% of the budget consists of grants and individual donations.

Unique value proposition: What makes your initiative innovative? How does your project differ from other organizations working in the same field?

State-of-art physical or chemical water quality measurement need water sampling and sample is analyzed separately. A few other organizations working in this field are developing sampling method that requires no human work. However laboratory testing is still required. The Droxin do in situ test with the sensor immediately at water sampling, thus it is capable to monitors water quality for multiple points in large area, and transmit instant data back continuously, with less than 1/20 cost.

Founding story: Share a story about the "Aha!" moment that sparked the beginning of this initiative.

Some of our team member were from a Cornell lab that develops biomedical devices for global health. Previously we worked on a project that prevent Zika virus spread by recognize mosquito habitats with UAVs. And we have rich experience in developing biosensors. During study we realized current issues in water pollution monitoring and if integrated our technology in UAV and biosensor, we could solve one of the primary issues in water toxins characterization and create great value. And then the Droxin platform was initialized.

Where did you hear about the Nestlé Creating Shared Value Prize?

  • Social media


Join the conversation:

Photo of Mouhamadou Moustapha Seck

Really interesting project. Good luck.

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