Portable UIA Device

by Conative Labs

   Cairo, Egypt

Project By

Conative Labs


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Fish Farmers are looking for a low-cost portable device to automatically measure the toxic Un-Ionized Ammonia (UIA) in aquacultures, so that they can better control the environment, and consequently improve the quality of the fish produce.

An invitation to bioanalysis scientists, chemists, and biotechnology engineers to come up with a device for measuring UIA directly in aquacultures using a probe, at a cost less than 5,000 EGP.

Winners will get a reward of 25,000 EGP provided by the USAID's SEED Project to implement their solution, in collaboration with Minsitry of Trade and Industry with the Egyptian technology start-up Conative Labs, in addition to further support to commercialize their solution.

The Problem

The aquaculture sector is now the fastest growing animal food sector with nearly most of the fish consumed worldwide being produced within aquaculture facilities. With a healthy aquatic environment being essential to the success of the industry, maintaining water quality and stabilizing different water parameters becomes one of the biggest challenges facing it.

Of all the water quality parameters that affect and influence fish health and lifespan, Ammonia is one of the most crucial elements to monitor, as when the Total Ammonia Nitrogen (TAN) measurement exceeds zero it indicates the existence of toxic Un-Ionized Ammonia (UIA) that can be derived after measuring pH and temperature. [1]

Generally, when the percentage of UIA exceeds 0.02 mg/L, it becomes potentially toxic to most fish species.[2]

There are many methods and solutions to monitor the levels of toxic Ammonia, which varies between high tech devices that measures all the water quality parameters including the TAN and UIA, and basic devices that use manual calculations to drive the UIA measurement from the TAN value after measuring pH and temperature.

The Challenge:

Design a device that measures the Total Ammonia Nitrogen (TAN) and Un-Ionized Ammonia (UIA) in aquacultures. The proposed device should satisfy the following criteria:

  • Its cost should not exceed 5,000 EGP;
  • Provides automatic calculations of UIA;
  • Portable/Handheld, so that workers can use it for measurements in different ponds easily;
  • User-friendly, i.e. having an easy and simple user interface;
  • Accuracy Level: max of ±4% of reading;
  • The measurement accuracy shouldn’t be affected by alternation in other water parameters.
  • Can be connected to computer for records keeping and analysis;
  • Suitable for all types of aquacultures, e.g. static water ponds, running water culture etc.
  • The device shows a warning in case of a threatening increase in the amount of Ammonia (Preferred).

Reward and Conditions:

The winner will receive a reward of 25,000 EGP provided by USAID's SEED Project to implement the solution, in collaboration with Conative Labs, according to the following conditions:

  • The solution should meet the aforementioned criteria;
  • The solution should be provided as a prototype design that serves as a proof of concept;
  • The solution should include a clear plan of action including implementation stages, timeline, required tools/materials, estimated budget, and technical support required (if applicable);
  • The reward will be given in installments, in accordance to milestones set by the innovator(s) according to their plan of action;

As per our platform Privacy Policy, in case the intellectual property rights are not registered, the innovator should include the minimum details required to judge the technical validity and feasibility of the solution without full technical specifications.



[1] Francis-Floyd, Ruth, Craig Watson, Denis Petty, and Deborah Pouder. "Ammonia in Aquatic Systems." EDIS New Publications RSS. December 18, 2015. Accessed January 01, 2018. http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/fa031.


[2] Richard J. Strange, Professor Department of Forestry, Wildlife and Fisheries Univerisity of Tennessee Knoxville, TN 37996 USA. "5. Water Quality: Ammonia." Recirculation Aquaculture: Water Quality: Ammonia. Accessed January 01, 2018. http://web.utk.edu/~rstrange/wfs556/html-content/05-ammonia.html.


Project By

Conative Labs


View Details

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