SBIR Phase II: A Real Time, High Sensitivity Atmospheric BTEX and 1,3-butadiene Vapor Monitor

Period of Performance: 01/01/2013 - 12/31/2013


Phase 2 SBIR

Recipient Firm

Entanglement Technologies, Inc.
Principal Investigator, Firm POC


This Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase II project will address the need for analyzers to detect the toxic species benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene, xylene, (BTEX) and 1,3-butadiene in ambient air. These toxic volatile organic compounds (VOC) are released during incomplete combustion of fossil fuels, the manufacture of a range of chemicals, and the process of petrochemical refining. Entanglement Technologies proposes to complete development of a BTEX and butadiene vapor analyzer based on the combination of cavity ring-down spectroscopy (CRDS) and diffusion time-of-flight (DiTOF). CRDS provides extremely sensitive detection while diffusion provides specificity. The research objective of this project is to demonstrate the full capabilities of this analyzer technology. The project will comprise building a prototype CRDS/DiTOF analyzer to perform laboratory and field trials of the technology. The anticipated benzene sensitivity is 10 parts per trillion by volume in a measurement of less than 10 minutes, surpassing existing technologies. The outcome of the project will be a design for a manufacturable analyzer. The broader impact/commercial potential of this project is to extend the sensitivity of state-of-the-art commercial CRDS analyzers have for small molecules (e.g. carbon dioxide or ammonia) to the detection of more complex molecules. DiTOF provides the ability to distinguish among larger molecules (benzene and other aromatics, aldehydes and ketones) that CRDS alone does not possess. The CRDS/DiTOF analyzer design developed in this project will be Entanglement Technologies? commercial platform design, easily adapted to many different trace gases, including atmospheric and building-interior pollutants, and combinations of trace gases. Such a family of analyzers will impact pollution research, control, and mitigation as much as existing commercial carbon dioxide, methane, and water CRDS analyzers are currently impacting the study of greenhouse gases and climate change. In the long term, CRDS/DiTOF technology will be applied to biomedical science, industrial process monitoring, environmental remediation and explosives detection. For example, the diffusion-based selectivity will prove critical to the separation and quantification of the many hydrocarbon gas components in human breath useful for non-invasive diagnosis of disease. Similarly, CRDS/DiTOF can enable sensitive chemical analysis of liquids such as blood.