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WVU researcher working on wireless sensors to detect breaches in storm water catch systems

When it rains, it pours and sometimes the overflow from such storms contain pollutants that have a significant impact on water quality. A researcher from West Virginia University is working to create a wireless sensor network to detect when such systems reach capacity and are in danger of breaching their containment walls.

Vinod Kulathumani, associate professor of computer science and electrical engineering, is working with researchers at Los Alamos National Laboratory on the creation of a wireless multi-hop mesh networking algorithm that supports a storm water catching system.

Vinod Kulathumani portrait
Vinod Kulathumani

“When sensor nodes are geographically dispersed to monitor a large area, the radio signals are not strong enough to reach the base station directly – or in one hop – because this would require a powerful signal transmission that would likely drain the batteries too soon,” Kulathumani said. “So the sensors communicate through other sensors – a multi-hop – that acts as intermediate relays the forward the data to the base station.”

The challenge, Kulathumani said, is to self-configure the routes from all sensors to the base station and design data transport protocols that are very efficient in transferring the data.

“It is not desirable to spend a lot of communication in forming the routes themselves, so the route forming has to be efficient. At the same time, all the data needs to be collected reliably.”

Kulathumani said that while the project focuses on storm water overflow detection, such multi-hop wireless sensor networks could have applications in environmental monitoring, monitoring of industrial control systems and perimeter surveillance. His work on the project is expected to be completed by December 2016.

-WVU-