SBIR Phase II: Real-Time Biosensor for Measuring Hazardous Chemical Contaminants in Ground Water

Period of Performance: 11/25/2014 - 11/30/2016


Phase 2 SBIR

Recipient Firm

OptiEnz Sensors
320 E Vine Dr, Ste 221
Fort Collins, CO 80524
Firm POC, Principal Investigator


The broader impact/commercial potential of this Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase II project is to increase the efficiency of identifying, mapping, and remediating water sources contaminated with chlorinated solvents. Chlorinated solvents are used in vast quantities as solvents and degreasing agents, and in the dry cleaning industry. The necessity of monitoring chlorinated solvents in water will continue for many generations due to their widespread occurrence in water sources around the world, their toxicity, and their high stability. A significant need exists and will grow for devices that can continuously measure the concentration of chlorinated organic chemicals in water, and that can do so accurately and inexpensively. Continuous in-situ data production in the field of environmental sensing will greatly increase efficiency in all processes that require a measurement of these chemicals, having a significant impact on the costs and timelines associated with remediation of contaminated sites. This sensor will allow for continuous monitoring of possible contamination sources in the case of a contamination event. Also, it will afford easy profiling of contamination plumes in aquifers. This technology will replace the current laboratory-based measurement protocols, which are not readily adapted for in-situ, on-line, or in-the-field measurements, and cannot produce data continuously. This SBIR Phase II project proposes to develop an optical enzymatic biosensor for continuous, quantitative monitoring of chlorinated solvent concentrations in water. Chlorinated solvent contamination of groundwater is a widespread ongoing issue around the world. The biosensing concept will be implemented in an optical fiber format, in which optical biosensor tips are linked to a small electro-optical unit. Analyte detection takes place on biosensor tips that are coated with enzymes and fluorescent chemicals. The scope of the research includes two parallel strategies for obtaining highly stable detection enzymes such that long lifetime sensors are achievable, development of a system to deliver required reagents to the sensing tip, development of signal processing algorithms to enable high accuracy measurements in variable environmental conditions and speciation of chlorinated compounds within mixtures, a manufacturing study for high throughput fabrication of the sensors, and field testing of the device at multiple contamination sites. Attainment of these objectives will advance the sensing technology to a robust and readily manufactured system for chlorinated solvent monitoring with low detection limits, high accuracy, and reliability.