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CleanGrow sensor wins first prize in Emerging Technologies Competition

The auto calibrating, auto sampling CleanGrow ion-sensor won the first prize in the Food & Drink category of  Royal Society of Chemistry’s Emerging Technologies Competition 2017.

As part of the TIME SCALE project, CleanGrow is developing an auto calibrating and auto sampling ion-sensor. Currently, if farmers want to measure the nutrient content of soil, compost or liquid fertilizer, they normally send samples to an external lab, and then they have to wait until they receive the test results. With the CleanGrow probe, with up to eight solid state ion electrodes, farmers will be allowed to automatically measure the concentration of multiple nutrients in real-time, including magnesium, nitrate and phosphate.

Emerging and innovative technology for the Food & Drug market

The CleanGrow sensor was recently shortlisted in the Food & Drug category of the Emerging Technologies Competition 2017. This competition is the Royal Society of Chemistry’s annual innovation initiative, turning promising ideas into commercial reality. Now in its fifth year, the competition brings cutting edge science to the real world for the benefit of society.

Read more on the web-site of Royal Society of Chemistry

Shortlisted entrants pitched their ideas to a panel of experts at the Chemistry Means Business event in mid June 2017. This event is the Royal Society of Chemistry’s annual flagship event for industry, bringing together start-ups, small and medium enterprises, multinational organizations, and academic entrepreneurs from across the UK and Europe.

First prize

The winners of the Emerging Technologies Competition 2017 were selected by expert judges after pitching their ideas, in front of a live audience at the Chemistry Means Business event in June. The CleanGrow sensor system was awarded with the first prize in the Food & Drink category of the competition.

Development of auto calibrating and auto sampling ion-sensor

A key functionality of plant research and advanced production systems is the ability of monitoring nutrients. The nutrients exist as ions in solution and are key input factors that control the plant growth. A recirculating nutrient solution will have to be replenished as plants take up nutrients. In an optimized plant production system, the concentration of each nutrient should be regulated to meet the requirement of the plants, illustrating the need for sensor technology to continuously monitor nutrient levels.


Space applications require technology that avoids the need for manual calibration and sampling. Such ion-sensor technology holds large potentials also for the terrestrial greenhouse industry.

The user interface of the CleanGrow sensor as of November 2017. The sensor can also be accessed via internet through its built-in web-server. Photo: TIME SCALE.

May 8, 2017, updated June 20 and December 13, 2017.