SBIR Phase II: Carbon Isotope Ratiometer
National Science Foundation
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Small Business Information
Los Gatos Research
67 East Evelyn Avenue, Suite 3, Mountain View, CA, 94041
Socially and Economically Disadvantaged:
AbstractThis Small Business Innovation Research Phase II project involves the development of a robust, field-portable gas analyzer capable of determining the carbon isotope ratio of carbon dioxide emitting from deep-sea hydrothermal vents. These vents provide access to water that has been trapped under the ocean in a unique, anaerobic environment that is devoid of photosynthesis and emulates the conditions believed to exist under the ice crusts of Europa and Callisto, beneath the surface of Mars, and on primordial Earth. Preliminary carbon isotope studies suggest that biological activity takes place in such an environment and novel instrumentation is sought to provide further evidence. The Phase II analyzer, based upon our proprietary Off-Axis ICOS technology, will determine the isotope ratio in-situ to within 1 angstrom, which is sufficient to discriminate between biogenic and geological carbon sources, and may provide evidence for a Subsurface Lithotrophic Microbiological Ecosystem (SLiME). The proposed instrument, which will interface with the Medusa seafloor sampling system developed by NASA Ames, will operate autonomously and be able to withstand the harsh underwater conditions found near deep-sea vents. The Phase II work will involve scientific development to enhance the prototype's specificity, deep-sea packaging to permit underwater deployment, and testing to demonstrate the analyzer's capabilities. One of the most promising markets for our novel Off-Axis ICOS technology is in industrial process control (IPC). The Phase II instrument can be directly converted to an IPC analyzer due to its ability to autonomously operate in harsh environments, integration of compact control system, and use of sophisticated chemometric algorithms. Within the $1.67B IPC market, the targeted markets will be those in which current technology is either too expensive or insufficient, such as the niche in the fast analysis of acetylene contamination in ethylene.
* information listed above is at the time of submission.