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Title: Fabrication of Google-trackable colorimetric test strips for detecting water leakages
Authors: Gcolotela, Zodidi 
Issue Date: 2020
South Africa is a water scarce country due to the shortage of rainfall. This scarcity is
further exacerbated by the loss of water through leakage from faulty pipes. The
consequence is the high amount of revenue lost through leakages and the negative
health implication from water unavailability. Given this concern, it becomes highly
imperative to address the water wastage through leaks by timely identifying and
fixing household leaking pipes. While different method of detecting water leaks have
been proposed in the literature, they are, however, expensive and difficult to
implement. Hence, it is therefore sensible for South Africa to make use of leading
leakage detection technology on pressurised systems, which can rapidly alert
operators to leaks and breakages, and detect leaks in old, low-pressure reticulation
systems. In the last decade, paper-based microfluidic device had become highly
useful for environmental monitoring, health diagnosis, and food safety due to their
simplicity, ease of use, and cheap application. This study is focused on the
fabrication of a trackable microfluidic device (μPADs) to detect water leaks
A quantitative research approach and an experimental design were followed. The
µPADs were prepared by printing patterns of wax (100 μm width) on the paper
surface and melting the wax into the paper to form hydrophobic barriers and put on a
hot plate for the wax to penetrate the paper. Solutions of lower to higher pH were
also prepared and were introduced to the chlorophenol red test strips and a range of
colours from yellow (lower pH) to purple (higher pH) were obtained. Colour change
for chlorophenol paper is irreversible and is based on pH variation and not on the
amount of water available in a solution. The optimised pH range was wider than the
typical grayscale-based image analysis and was successful for a wide pH range of
2–12 measurements. The QR codes attached to the strips enable tracking to obtain
the location from which a leakage was detected and this is done with the use of
Google analytics which can tell real-time users from the website and their locations.
The digital images obtained with the μPADs were analysed using the CIEL*a*b*
colour system. The colour change was also validated using both spectroscopy and
optical microscope. The study has exhaustively demonstrated that the combination of digital image
analysis and a microfluidic paper-based analytical device (μPADs) are highly
effective for both quantitative and qualitative analysis, and thus useful for the
detection of household water leaks.
Dissertation submitted in fulfilment of the requirement for the degree Master of Applied Sciences in Chemistry in the Faculty of Applied Sciences, Durban University of Technology, 2020.
Appears in Collections:Theses and dissertations (Applied Sciences)

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