Detection and Monitoring of Mercury Species

Period of Performance: 06/13/2016 - 03/12/2017


Phase 1 SBIR

Recipient Firm

Giner, Inc.
89 Rumford Avenue Array
Newton, MA 02466
Firm POC
Principal Investigator


Statement of the Problem or Situation that is Being Addressed: Improper disposal of mercury has resulted in contamination of soil, groundwater, and surface water at numerous DOE sites, including Oak Ridge Reservation and Savannah River site. Given the highly toxic nature of mercury, it is necessary to closely monitor concentrations in the environment to prevent unnecessary public exposure. The development of a highly selective, safe, cost-effective, and self-contained field device capable of detection of trace concentrations of mercuric species in groundwater and surface water would therefore represent a significant advance. Statement of How this Problem or Situation is Being Addressed: The overall objective of the proposed program is to develop a robust, real-time electrochemical sensor for the measurement and speciation of trace toxic mercury. Currently, there is no analytical electrochemical technology available that is capable of in situ, on-site determination and speciation of mercury in water at a low (parts-per-billion) detection limit. The innovation of the proposed method is the use of a high-performance electrode platform combined with the high sensitivity of technique and microelectrode fabrication. What is to be Done in Phase I? Sensor chips and algorithm will be developed and tested to demonstrate the feasibility of measurement and speciation of mercury in surface water and groundwater. Commercial Applications and Other Benefits: Successful development of a portable sensor for trace mercury in water would open the door to portable water analyses, leading to increased safety of environmental water and drinking water. The ability to frequently monitor long-term mercury levels in aquatic environments will provide information on the safety of fish consumption. Key words: Mercury, methylmercury, electrochemical sensors