SBIR Phase I: Measuring Aqueous Metal Concentrations with the Chemometer

Period of Performance: 01/01/2014 - 12/31/2014


Phase 1 SBIR

Recipient Firm

Access Sensor Technologies, LLC
Principal Investigator, Firm POC


The broader impact/commercial potential of this project centers on the ability to measure concentrations of toxic metals in water using a simple, power-free technology. Metals represent an important class of water contaminants that come from a variety of sources including mining, transportation, manufacturing, waste management, and energy production. The U.S. EPA has developed water-quality regulations that require periodic monitoring for specific metals, such as: nickel, chromium, iron, and zinc (and many more). These regulations have largely driven the development of the environmental water-quality market sector, within which we will initially target mining, energy production, and waste management segments. At present, however, the cost of monitoring toxic metals is high (hundreds of dollars per sample) given the large numbers of samples that must be analyzed across the life cycle of many of these sites. Our technology is simple and inexpensive and thus will allow for more frequent monitoring to better protect critical water supplies from contamination. The long-term impact from this technology is a significant cost reduction needed to protect and monitor our nation?s water resources. This Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase I project will develop a novel, sensitive technology for metals in water. This technology, called the Chemometer, is inexpensive and portable and requires no power and no external reading equipment. Quantifying metals in water is presently done using large, expensive laboratory equipment with costs of>$100/sample. Current portable measurement systems (most notably X-Ray Fluorescence) are not well suited to aqueous samples. Thus, a need (and a viable market) exists for simple, portable, power-free measurement tools that enable rapid in-field quantification of metals in water. Our approach will be substantially less expensive and simple to use. The Chemometer is made on ordinary filter paper using innovative barrier printing technology. Reagents are selectively patterned on the paper to give selective and sensitive measurements of metals in water. Quantifying metal concentrations is done by simply measuring the length of a colored region on the Chemometer once the assay is complete. The Chemometer is portable (and disposable), making streamside measurements feasible in all sorts of resource-poor locations.