Wearable Ultralow Power Personal Exposure Monitor for Atmospheric Pollutants

Period of Performance: 07/20/2015 - 06/30/2016


Phase 1 STTR

Recipient Firm

KWJ Engineering, Inc.
NEWARK, CA 94560
Principal Investigator


DESCRIPTION (provided by applicant): The goal of this STTR Phase I collaboration between KWJ Engineering (KWJ) and North Carolina State University (NCSU) will be development of a unique, autonomously powered, wearable environmental gas sensor for personal exposure monitoring (PEM). The approach will be to integrate KWJ ultralow power, high performance printed amperometric gas sensor for key atmospheric pollutants, including carbon monoxide (CO), ozone (O3) and nitrogen dioxide (NO2) with thermoelectric power harvesting technology under development at NCSU. This integration will provide a new tool for personal and personalized exposure assessment. This program addresses the NIEHS mission to discover how the environment affects people in order to promote healthier lives and specifically the identified need for tools for improved exposure assessment. The wearable sensors with on-board power harvesting will derive all required power from body heat via a small thermoelectric generator (TEG) and associated electronic components, incorporated into a lightweight, unobtrusive, wearable system. Very small, lightweight, unobtrusive monitoring systems will broaden the conditions under which exposure studies can be performed and will remove the need for awkward, bulky or inconvenient sampling/collection devices and batteries. This system will expand the scope of PEM studies and provide increased capability to produce personalized data from mobile individuals, thus improving the ability of federal agencies to protect human health and well-being relative to environmental inhalation hazards. KWJ's new class of amperometric gas sensor, the screen-printed electrochemical sensor (SPEC), promises to deliver high performance gas sensing for a wide range of applications at commodity-level prices. These devices, which are about the size of a micro-SD cell phone card, use a variety of conventional and developmental electrolytes tuned for specific tasks, as well as novel detection electrode catalysts. This provides unprecedented access to a wide range of tunable selectivity, sensitivity and robustness to environmental conditions compared to conventional amperometric gas sensors. This is a new, cost- competitive, high performance technology that bridges the cost-performance gap for gas measurement applications. The Phase I program will involve fabrication and testing of SPEC devices using components down selected for effective sensing of the target gases at relevant environmental levels. These components will then be integrated into a demonstration using thermoelectric power sources in a body-worn system. Additional target gases and particulates (criteria pollutants) are envisions as add-ons to the system in Phase II.