KETOS: Redefining Water Quality Assurance

The AVF is excited to welcome a new member: KETOS.

KETOS has created a highly intelligent and fully integrated solution that automates water quality testing and monitoring of over 20 parameters including nutrients, pH, salinity, heavy metals, and inorganics. The self-calibrating, self-cleaning system includes threshold-based alerts and real-time reporting with parts per billion (ppb) specificity and industry-standard lab accuracy at an impressively reasonable price. The system can report in millimoles and macromoles as needed for the different parameters of interest.

The KETOS Shield system, having been deployed so far across North America, is now entering South America and is actively expanding globally in 2021.

The AVF interviewed Steve Shaffer, the Vice President of Marketing at KETOS:

“The flagship product is the SHIELD system. About the size of a microwave, it has transformed how products existed for traditional water quality, sampling, testing and analysis through modularity in design, remote user control and complete automation of the entire functionality expected of the solution.”

It truly extends the principle of software agility into hardware operations like never before. The business model is well-coupled with the technology innovation to offer customers a unique perspective on smart water through a digital lens.

KETOS works with water operations across multiple industrial, municipal and agricultural applications. Their agricultural applications include vertical farms and greenhouses as well as open-field farming, food processing, food safety, and bottling.

“[In a vertical farm] often you’re pulling water from a municipal source, and that water quality can vary significantly […] there is also certainly a desire for a lot of these operations to recycle water [and so] the quality and makeup of that water changes over time […]

…so to be able to get real-time feedback and even threshold-based alerts via the software platform [means you’ll] know exactly when water quality starts to degrade, or when to add certain nutrients, rather than waiting to manually test or see that the quality and consistency of the plants has been impacted…”

Additionally, the data is aggregated and warehoused in a way that allows helpful predictions to be made about how water quality will change over time, for example: understanding the water composition specific to nitrogen-nitrates for vertical farms is required as frequent as 15-minute intervals to manage the nutrient composition for their grow operations and maintain the consistency of taste and quality that the farms would like to deliver to their users.

Traditionally, water testing has been carried out either by sending samples to a lab or via a variety of devices/probes. KETOS has created a streamlined process that removes the need for having multiple probes for measuring water parameters, and the entire labor cycle of sample preparation, inconvenient cleaning and calibration processes, and the infrastructure of analysis associated with that.

“…there’s typically one probe per parameter though you can get some multiparameter probes or even some expensive online analyzers. But imagine you’re a water operator and you have to test many different things…every one of your devices has to be cleaned after use and calibrated before use…

…The intent of increasing the frequency of testing is counterproductive when you have to spend an enormous amount on ongoing consumables needed for the online analyzers that you have purchased. With an online device like the KETOS SHIELD System that’s sampling a stream of water offline, the interruption to operations is minimal to none, and the power cycling of the system if needed can also be handled remotely with no onsite labor or time required from the water operator. On the contrary, other online analyzers still need an extensive amount of attention to cleaning and calibration as well as determining the operational impact if they are inline or sampling offline.”

The SHIELD diverts a small portion of water from a water system to the SHIELD where it can currently monitor up to 26 water quality parameters. The number of parameters is continuously being added to at the KETOS R&D facility based in Silicon Valley.

“The robotics operation within the machine will also self-clean and self-calibrate […] there is no down-time for cleaning, maintenance or upgrades. The operation can continue.”


KETOS offers a ‘zero CapEx subscription service’ and charges a monthly flat fee per system installed allowing for a clean ROI to the customer with the much-needed predictability of costs to maintain the operational efficiency desired. It includes all hardware, software/firmware (plus updates), cloud hosting/storage/analytics, and more, as well as installation and maintenance with part replacement. The key is also interoperability within the vertical farms where other inline sensors are installed for data to be integrated into the KETOS platform or for the preferred platform of the customer or homegrown proprietary softwares to allow access to the data generated by KETOS.

“Our pricing is very different from traditional water infrastructure pricing, which tends to be tens to hundreds of thousands of dollars, sometimes more, with very, very large (depending on the size of the operation) service contracts…

…Depending on the number of parameters you’re testing and the frequency at which you test, we’ve seen some of our customers get down to about two cents (USD) per sample, which is significantly less than sending it to the lab or having to use an online device and paying for the ongoing maintenance.”

Get more information on different services of KETOS

Edited by: Laura Nelson