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Field-portable Quantitative Test for Chlorinated Organic Compounds in Water


OBJECTIVE: Develop a field portable analysis capable of detection and quantitation of chlorinated organic solvents in environmental water samples. DESCRIPTION: As part of a research program to develop field-portable sensors for water contaminants and toxicants, the US Army Engineer Research and Development Center (ERDC) is seeking novel methods for rapid quantitation of chlorinated organic solvents in environmental waters. Chlorinated organic solvents, such as trichloroethylene (TCE), dichloromethane (methylene chloride), tetrachloroethylene (perchloroethylene, PERC), and trichloroethane are employed as industrial solvents in both military and civilian applications and have proven to be persistent environmental contaminants. While the military has largely phased out use of these compounds, detection of their presence in contaminated ground water is an ongoing concern due to known toxic and carcinogenic effects associated with exposure (1, 2). Current methods primarily involve the use of gas chromatographic/mass spectrometric (GC/MS) methods (3, 4). While field-portable GC/MS instrumentation is available, the associated logistical burden is cumbersome and not ideal for rapid sensing in the field. We are seeking innovative research and development to provide hardware and methodology for quantitation of chlorinated organic compounds in environmental water samples with rapid analysis times and minimal sample processing steps. PHASE I: Provide proof of concept demonstration for quantitation of chlorinated organic solvents in water. Design and performance metrics for the proof of concept are given below. The concept will be original or will represent significant advances or extensions of existing approaches. Note that due to the performance metrics, gas chromatography (GC) based solutions are not acceptable. The proof of concept will demonstrate the technical feasibility of all key elements required for successful execution of the proposed method. 1) The method should provide quantitation of chlorinated solvents in environmental water samples with limits of detection less than 5 ppb. 2) The method should require minimal processing steps and require less than 30 minutes from water sample collection to results. 3) The method must be transitionable to a glass microfluidic chip-based design. 4) All hardware and consumables must have a shelf life of at least 6 months with minimal temperature or environmental controls. 5) The solution must be transitionable to a handheld, battery-powered device. Preference will be given to technologies that provide quantitative analysis of individual compounds in a mixture with the highest priority given to selective and quantitative measurement of trichloroethylene (TCE). PHASE II: Expand on the Phase I proof of concept work to construct and demonstrate operation of a prototype chlorinated organic solvent quantitation system. The system, including protective case, hardware, and consumables must be less than 2 pounds and must occupy a volume less than 1.0 ft3. Demonstration will include determination of limits of detection, sensitivity, selectivity for particular compounds, characterization of interferant effects, and response time using simulated environmental samples. Phase II activities should also demonstrate device feasibility under field testing conditions. Phase II deliverables also include two devices for independent evaluation and testing. PHASE III: Evaluate the ability of the device to quantify chlorinated organic compounds in field studies. Field tests will involve testing at Army and USACE sites. This device will be incorporated into the SafePort hand-held water analysis system. Military uses include detection and quantitation of chlorinated organic compounds on military lands and ranges and monitoring of cleanup activities. Civilian uses include monitoring of municipal water supplies, environmental compliance studies, and environmental monitoring of industrial process or waste streams. A well-formulated marketing strategy will be critical for success in these commercial applications.
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