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Olfactometer for Drinking Water - A Quick Test to Odour in Water

Although the drinking water quality in Hong Kong fully complies with the World Health Organization's Guidelines for Drinking-water Quality, in order to improve the aesthetic quality of water for the enjoyment of safe and wholesome water by the public, WSD has designed and developed an Olfactometer for drinking water quality monitoring.

The Olfactometer is an apparatus engaging sensory assessment by human panelist which can improve the sensitivity and efficiency of odour detection. It enables our operators to promptly detect the presence of odourous substances and hence more timely adjustment of the water treatment processes with a view to removing the off-favour compounds.

In 2010, the WSD has already developed the first generation of odour detection method. Despite of the low cost, this method faces a difficulty in revealing weak smell, and thus giving a false-negative result of missing out the odourous substances. The WSD thus turned to the market for an aesthetic device but only to find that there was no such device for application in drinking water. Due reference has thus been made by the WSD to the operational principle of other olfactometers engaged in the industries, such as food and fragrance, and creatively designed an in-house Olfactometer purposely built for drinking water with the cost of $50,000.

Quick Test Mechanism

Quick Test Mechanism

Upon screening of the odour with this custom-made Olfactometer, the drinking water is then verified by the simplified Flavor Profile Analysis, a reliable test result could be available within 1 to 2 hours such that Water Treatment Works operators can proceed with the appropriate water treatment process more timely and cost-effectively. After a year in operation, it is proven that the operators' capability in odour detection can be enhanced by 100%. This innovative device can fully utilize human sensory of smell, without use of any chemicals, at reduced electricity consumption which are environmental friendly.

While we are still endeavoring to improve the Olfactometer such as its automation or shortening the time of operation, the first-ever Olfactometry Laboratory has been established in the Ma On Sha Water Treatment Works. Last but not least, the device has been awarded with the champion of WSD's Best Technical Solution of the Year Competition.