New Wave Media

October 6, 2023

Ocean Diagnostics Unveils Ascension: A 'Cost-effective' Tech for Ocean Microplastics and eDNA Data Collection

Ocean Diagnostics’ Ascension is a portable marine microplastics and eDNA depth sampling instrument rated for 400-meter depths.

Ocean Diagnostics’ Ascension is a portable marine microplastics and eDNA depth sampling instrument rated for 400-meter depths.

Canadian firm Ocean Diagnostics has said it has developed cutting-edge technology called Ascension to simplify the ocean microplastics and environmental DNA (eDNA) data collection processes.

According to Ocean Diagnostics, designed to overcome the challenges of sampling at depth, Ascension is a 22-pound tethered sampling device that collects filtered microplastics or eDNA samples down to 400 meters from the side of a small vessel or fixed installation without the need for heavy and expensive deployment equipment.

"Confronting imminent ocean threats like microplastic pollution and biodiversity loss demands immediate action. Ascension was designed to democratize scientific data, bridge knowledge gaps, and enable effective and timely solutions,” says Ethan Edson, Ocean Diagnostics’ Co-Founder and CEO. 

Protecting our oceans against marine pollution, invasive species, overfishing, and climate change requires routine monitoring and research efforts., the company said, adding that, in the past, the only equipment available for researchers studying these applications was heavy, expensive, inaccessible and not-fit-for-purpose. Credit: Ocean Diagnostics

"It took hours of time to sample and filter water and left samples susceptible to contamination risks. Suitable for marine and freshwater environments, Ascension is equipped with seven discrete filter housings each containing a 47-millimeter diameter filter for direct in situ filtration," Ocean Diagnostics said.

Designed with an innovative pinch valve system, Ascension pulls water through filters rather than pushes, which allows samples to be collected efficiently while avoiding external contamination. The included 200-meter communication tether used to lower the instrument into the water connects to a Windows software interface via high-speed Bluetooth so users can view and control sample valves, filtration rates, CTD data and battery status in real time, the company said.

Per Ocean Diagnostics, the technology can also be configured for automated deployments to sample and collect data at specific time points or sampling frequencies. 

"With a full CTD sensor, Ascension simultaneously measures depth, temperature, salinity, flow rates and total volume filtered in real-time to collect highly targeted samples using an intuitive interface without the need for coding or confusing terminal commands. The instrument’s 266-watt-hour battery pack is easily recharged with a plug-in charger via a removable SubConn connector on the instrument," Ocean Diagnostics said.

“Tackling complex environmental problems requires high technology,” says Edson. “Ascension offers a cost-effective and reliable method for collecting the microplastic and eDNA data needed to inform solutions.”

The February 2024 edition of Marine Technology Reporter is focused on Oceanographic topics and technologies.
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