SBIR Phase II: A New Method for Quantitative Calibration-Free Chemical Analysis

Award Information
Agency: National Science Foundation
Branch: N/A
Contract: 0924394
Agency Tracking Number: 0740542
Amount: $499,998.00
Phase: Phase II
Program: SBIR
Awards Year: 2009
Solicitation Year: N/A
Solicitation Topic Code: AM
Solicitation Number: NSF 07-586
Small Business Information
2571-A Arthur Kill Road, Staten Island, NY, 10309
DUNS: 088156708
HUBZone Owned: N
Woman Owned: N
Socially and Economically Disadvantaged: N
Principal Investigator
 Arel Weisberg
 (718) 608-0935
Business Contact
 Arel Weisberg
Title: PhD
Phone: (718) 608-0935
Research Institution
This award is funded under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (Public Law 111-5). This Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase II project seeks to develop an analysis method based on plasma physics with unique advantages for in situ process control in coal-fired power plants and in metal and glass production. Software developed from this program will result in development of process control sensors capable of rapidly measuring the elemental composition of a material solely from the material's analytical laser induced breakdown spectroscopy (LIBS) spectrum. Analyses without calibration curves or standard reference materials (SRM's) would be revolutionary because conditions change and material compositions vary outside their expected range in industrial plants, rendering calibration curves inaccurate. Analytical LIBS could not be developed in the past because of these large uncertainties. This project will verify the algorithms developed are effective when applied to actual industrial materials: coal, aluminum, and glass. Coupling Analytical LIBS with a LIBS sensor for coal and patented LIBS probe for molten metals and glass will result in real time monitoring and control, a new and potentially paradigm shifting capability for these industries. The broader impact/commercial potential of this project will be to the coal-fired power plants and manufacturing plants that produce glass, metal alloys, and other products by allowing the plant personnel to monitor the composition of their material continuously, which is currently impossible. Alloying and other mixing operations will be monitored in real time, eliminating errors in these operations. Increased plant output, reduced waste, and reduced energy expenditures per pound of product will result from problems in the production process being caught much more quickly. New manufacturing paradigms, such as continuous alloying of aluminum, are also made possible by development of this technology. Developing Analytical LIBS for the measurement of coal properties at electric utility power plants will increase their efficiency and optimize boiler performance. There will also be benefits in other fields such as atomic emission spectroscopy, plasma physics, and astronomy. Analytical LIBS can also be extended for accurate LIBS analyses of the environment (e.g. minerals, oceans, atmospheric aerosols), planetary science (e.g. Mars, moon, and comets), agriculture, and security (e.g. WMD detection). The development of Analytical LIBS for these fields is crucial because no standard reference materials (SRM's) exist for many of these materials, and hence accurate calibration curves are difficult to construct and will have limited utility.

* Information listed above is at the time of submission. *

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