An automated, atomic fluorescence-based, field deployable groundwater mercury monitoring system
Department of Energy
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Small Business Information
Brooks Rand, Inc.
4415 6th Ave. NW, Seattle, WA, 98107-4416
Socially and Economically Disadvantaged:
AbstractMonitoring mercury contamination in groundwater, surface water, and other natural environments is challenging and expensive, and because samples have to be collected in the field and analyzed in a laboratory, there is a long delay before results are available. The expense of monitoring limits the number of samples researchers collect, which can lead to inaccurate estimates of mercury contamination. The delay in the availability of results makes it difficult to remediate subsurface mercury contamination, because it can take months to accurately trace a contaminant plume to its source. The lack of mercury data leads to uninformed public health and environmental management decisions. To address these problems, we have developed a prototype instrument that collects water samples and analyzes them for total mercury in the field. It does not use any reagents, which makes it inexpensive to operate and allows it to run for periods of weeks to months without human intervention. It measures mercury with an atomic fluorescence detector, giving it sufficient sensitivity and range for both natural and contaminated systems. The instrument can be monitored and controlled and data can be accessed by Wi-Fi, cellular, or satellite data network from a web browser on a computer or smartphone. During Phase I of this project, we built a working prototype that quantitatively measures mercury but cannot run unattended for long periods of time. During Phase II, we will refine the design of the instrument and several components to improve its unattended runtime and prepare it for extended field testing. We will field test one instrument near our offices in Seattle, and will send four others to potential customers for beta testing at sites around the country. These beta testers represent a wide range of potential applications of the new instrument: from monitoring of natural surface water, to contaminated groundwater monitoring, to wastewater treatment plant optimization. Commercial Applications and Other Benefits: Once commercialized, the instrument will have numerous benefits for the mercury research and regulatory community and the public. It will greatly lower the cost of field sampling and analysis, which will enable much more mercury monitoring than is currently possible. It will make real-time data available both to researchers in the field and to the public via the internet. Enhanced mercury data availability will lead to better regulatory and environmental management decisions to protect public health, and will lead to a public better-informed about the water quality around them. We expect this project to generate 5.5 new permanent full time-equivalent jobs.
* information listed above is at the time of submission.