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Sensors 2010, 10(12), 11512-11529; doi:10.3390/s101211512

Characterization of Buoyant Fluorescent Particles for Field Observations of Water Flows

1
Department of Mechanical & Aerospace Engineering, Polytechnic Institute of New York University, Brooklyn, NY 11201, USA
2
Honors Center of Italian Universities (H2CU), Sapienza University of Rome, Rome 00184, Italy
3
GEMINI Department, Agricultural School, University of Tuscia, Viterbo 01100, Italy
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 9 October 2010 / Revised: 10 November 2010 / Accepted: 11 November 2010 / Published: 15 December 2010
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sensors in Agriculture and Forestry)
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Abstract

In this paper, the feasibility of off-the-shelf buoyant fluorescent microspheres as particle tracers in turbid water flows is investigated. Microspheres’ fluorescence intensity is experimentally measured and detected in placid aqueous suspensions of increasing concentrations of clay to simulate typical conditions occurring in natural drainage networks. Experiments are conducted in a broad range of clay concentrations and particle immersion depths by using photoconductive cells and image-based sensing technologies. Results obtained with both methodologies exhibit comparable trends and show that the considered particles are fairly detectable in critically turbid water flows. Further information on performance and integration of the studied microspheres in low-cost measurement instrumentation for field observations is obtained through experiments conducted in a custom built miniature water channel. This experimental characterization provides a first assessment of the feasibility of commercially available buoyant fluorescent beads in the analysis of high turbidity surface water flows. The proposed technology may serve as a minimally invasive sensing system for hazardous events, such as pollutant diffusion in natural streams and flash flooding due to extreme rainfall.
Keywords: fluorescent particles; hillslope processes; hydrologic tracers; processing of sensed data; sensors’ applications fluorescent particles; hillslope processes; hydrologic tracers; processing of sensed data; sensors’ applications
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MDPI and ACS Style

Tauro, F.; Aureli, M.; Porfiri, M.; Grimaldi, S. Characterization of Buoyant Fluorescent Particles for Field Observations of Water Flows. Sensors 2010, 10, 11512-11529.

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