Real-Time Monitoring System for Phytoremediation Optimization

Period of Performance: 01/01/2003 - 12/31/2003


Phase 2 SBIR

Recipient Firm

ADA Technologies, Inc.
8100 Shaffer Parkway Array
Littleton, CO 80127
Firm POC
Principal Investigator


70474B02-II Phytoremediation is a largely experimental technique to remove excessive amounts of metals from contaminated soils. However, currently available measurement and analysis techniques are slow and expensive, thus impeding metals remediation using this desirable approach. Technology is needed for the immediate and inexpensive assessment of metals accumulation in plants during phytoextraction, in order to provide data to allow real-time optimization in cleanup operations. Laser Induced Breakdown Spectroscopy (LIBS), serving as an elemental analysis tool applied together with other optical measurements (infrared reflectance spectroscopy, attenuated total reflectance), promises to provide critical information that can drive the transition of phytoremediation from an esoteric technique to a powerful environmental cleanup technology. Phase I demonstrated that LIBS can detect lead, cadmium, and zinc in plant leaves, with minimal sample preparation, at the levels required to measure plant performance in phytoremediation. In Phase II, a portable LIBS analyzer will be designed, built, and deployed. Analytical techniques to combine LIBS data with other optical spectroscopy analytical techniques for optimum control of the phytoremediation process will be established. Procedures for calibration, data integration, and analysis will be developed and evaluated. Commercial Applications and Other Benefits as described by awardee: By providing immediate feedback on metals uptake in plants, phytoremediation should become a more cost-effective, viable option at thousands of polluted DOE and industrial sites. Another potential application would be to use LIBS in the quality control of agricultural crops (for heavy metal content screening).