You are here
Microelectrochemical Capillary System for Environmental Analytical Lab on a Chip
Phone: (979) 764-2200
Phone: (979) 764-2218
As part of its mission to protect human health and the environment, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency develops and promotes innovative cleanup strategies that restore contaminated sites to productive use, reduce associated costs, and promotes environmental stewardship. Testing and characterization of the environment for potentially harmful contaminants is a costly endeavor. Current technologies used for environmental characterization require collection of a sample following by its transfer to a laboratory for analysis. The laboratory approach is labor intensive, time consuming, expensive, and does not provide the local site with information in a timely manner. On site analysis using portable instrumentation is often preferred because it is cost effective and rapid. Unfortunately current portable analytical devices are limited by size, low sensitivity to contaminants, and by restrictions in the type of contaminants they can detect. This proposal concerns the development a new automated field deployable analytical laboratory. The proposed device is uniquely able to analyze a variety of both organic and metallic contaminants in environmental samples. A multiplicity of innovative components and designs for sample pre-concentration, separation, fluid transfer and detection were introduced, with emphasis on microfluidic components and processes. The new designs specifically address critical technical road blocks to the further development of fieldable analytical devices. Laboratory test results carried out in the Phase I study were highly favorable. Detection of parts per billion levels of toxic metal contaminants in water samples was achieved, as was detection of trace levels of organic contaminants, such as BTEX. A Technology Niche Analysis showed that there is a strong commercial pull for this technology, in line with current trends in the $3.8 billion dollar analytical Instrumentation industry. During the Phase II an automated system capable of detection of both metal and organic contaminants in ground water will be developed. This instrument will potentially provide accurate, inexpensive, easy-to-use and sustainable (green) detection capabilities that can be used by both trained and untrained (community) personnel and allow for more rapid hazardous waste site cleanups.
* Information listed above is at the time of submission. *