52 BioTechnology Ltd.

52 BioTechnology Ltd.

- Portable Toxicity Screen (PTS) Platform Technology


The PTS platform technology is designed to detect Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAHs). These are the carcinogenic and widely found toxic compounds in oil spills, brownfield sites, area surrounding removed (underground) storage tanks, gasworks sites with coal tar residues, etc. The PTS has also been found to detect the wider Total Petroleum Hydrocarbons (TPHs), as well as certain pesticides and other toxic residues.

As contaminants generally bind to soil particles, extraction of contaminants from soil and other similar environments in order to test samples has always proven to be difficult. Also, since soil contaminants are usually hydrophobic, an aqueous (or water-based) extraction system does not achieve the desired extraction of contaminants from a soil sample.

The PTS system has effectively and efficiently overcome these above critical challenges.

The PTS system, including its consumables, is a bioassay, a test procedure based on the well-established Vibrio fischeritoxicity test (DIN ISO 11348-3).

Luminescing marine bacteria (V. fischeri) are exposed to soil samples. Contaminated soil has an instant effect of a change in light emission. The purpose-built PTS instrument measures simultaneous readings from ‘control’ and ‘sample’ chambers and gives an on-the spot indication of toxicity, and an indirect measure of bioavailability and safety of the contaminating PAHs in a soil.

While chemical testing provides quantitative results of the individual contaminants present in soil, such tests alone miss out the synergistic effect of the presence of two or more contaminants that can yield a toxic effect. The PTS technology platform provides a complete picture of toxicity, and whether used alone or in conjunction with chemical testing, such results can contribute to better remediation management and cost-saving decisions.

Data from the PTS including that from the integrated GPS, in combination with commercial-off-the-shelf GIS (Geographical Information Systems) software, can be used to produce toxicity maps.

Using its specialist and relevant technology expertise, the 52 BioTechnology Ltd team integrates client feedback to continue working to upgrade and further enhance the PTS platform technology.

The Company:

52 BioTechnology Ltd proudly takes on the importance of an across-the-board corporate approach and business strategy, as well as its marketing developments and 'before and after' sales support, while continuing to improve the distinctive PTS system and develop its product and services range.

The PTS technology comprises an exclusive instrument and an associated distinctive set of consumables. Used together they ensure not only rapid, on-site screening for toxic soil contamination, but also, significantly, that the data is valid and auditable, necessary for quick and effective remediation decision-making.

The Instrument:

The PTS instrument is purpose-built to obtain simultaneous readings from ‘control’ and ‘sample’ chambers. This two-cell instrument therefore assures valid data arising from the bioluminescence-based bioassay when screening for toxicity:

  • the use of live bacteria inherently yields decaying and varying amounts of light over time even in minutes, thus measuring a sample at the same time as the control throughout the screening process is imperative to discount errors and false conclusions;
  • additionally, the exposure of the biosensor to the chemical extractant used in the bioassay inherently also reduces light output, another effect which necessitates measuring a control and the sample simultaneously to obtain valid results;
  • a temperature-controlled enclosure ensures consistency of the biosensor’s light output for reliability of test results in all seasonal conditions.

The Consumables:

The consumables, produced in-house, include:

  • innovative extraction know-how which ensures separation of the toxic (hydrophobic) contaminants from the soil, and then presentation of the separated contaminants to the responsive biosensor in a manner which in itself is not toxic to the biosensor;
  • pre-prepared ‘control’ for use in combination with the sample to provide scientifically valid and relevant data;
  • the biosensor (V. fischeri), in a freeze-dried state, produced in-house to a high specification.

Overall, the PTS two-cell system and technology assures a measure of toxicity alone, not otherwise compromised or reflecting a measure of other distorting factors.

Significant benefits of the PTS technology include:

  • Ability to screen soil contamination without prior knowledge of source or nature of the contaminants – it measures toxicity
  • Compared with sole use of traditional (chemical) laboratory analysis, the screening process using the PTS saves substantial cost and time in decision-making and remediation efforts on brownfield sites
  • Initial training and an instruction manual provided for ease of use by non-specialists
  • One-time use consumables reduce the likelihood of error and/or cross-contamination
  • Provides near real-time outputs for cost-effective and timely decision-making
  • Provides a complete picture of toxicity of soil compared to individual component identification from chemical tests
  • Chemical tests alone miss out the synergistic effect of the presence of two or more contaminants that can yield a toxic effect
  • Wet soil samples can be accommodated compared to traditional chemical testing protocols which necessitate drying (resulting in the loss of contaminants)
  • Auditable trail with unique IDs for soil samples and geo-referencing, using the integrated GPS module
  • Toxicity maps using GIS (Geographic Information System) data can be produced to identify ‘hotspots’.
The PTS system has a number of distinctive features to provide efficient screening of soil toxicity onsite:
  • A unique two-cell (rather than standard one-cell) measurement system for simultaneous collation of data from the ‘control’ and ‘sample’ chambers. Single-cell chambers for measurement of light output are found to be error-prone and may result in false negatives/positives.
  • The exclusive temperature-regulated PTS instrument ensures consistent light output from the temperature-sensitive biosensor.
  • The integration of a GPS module provides exclusivity to the PTS.

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