A New Low Cost Ammonia Sensor for Environmental Health Monitoring

Period of Performance: 09/17/2010 - 08/28/2011

$100K

Phase 1 SBIR

Recipient Firm

KWJ Engineering, Inc.
NEWARK, CA 94560
Principal Investigator

Abstract

DESCRIPTION (provided by applicant): KWJ Engineering Inc. proposes to combine our years of experience and knowledge of electrochemical sensor design, manufacturing and novel electrolyte technology with modern fabrication techniques to develop a new, ultra low-cost electrochemical sensor for the detection and quantification of ammonia (NH3), with improved performance compared to currently available industrial sensors. We propose a new type of low cost, high performance amperometric gas sensor for NH3 which supports the NIEHS mission to reduce the burden of human disease and dysfunction from environmental causes by understanding each of these components and how they interrelate. Exemplified by the NH3 sensor proposed here, the new technology we are proposing will be able to broadly support the mission of NIEHS by ready adaptability to a wide variety of oxidizable or reducible toxic gases. The extreme low cost and flexibility of the proposed sensors will enable a new microscale technology for detecting and quantifying simultaneously multiple environmental exposure agents, in this case, toxic gases including NH3, amines, CO, SO2, NO2 , NO and HCN. The Specific Aims of the Phase I program will include characterization of NH3 absorption and detection of NH3 using the new electrolyte, development of the fabrication method for the new amperometric sensor platform and testing of NH3 monitoring with the completed sensor. The new sensor will use a novel electrolyte to promote high signal-to-noise, high sensitivity, quantitative measurement of atmospheric NH3 in air, which surpasses what is available with conventional gas sensors. This approach offers several potential advantages including significantly enhanced detection limit and sensitivity, improved stability and interferent rejection and improved sensor lifetime. While amperometric NH3 monitoring is relatively common, the electrolytes used in them have not improved over the years. This presents the opportunity to develop relatively unexplored science and to couple this with a new, technologically innovative sensor to solve critical problems related to public health. The economic potential of a new, much less expensive toxic gas sensor that bridges the cost-performance gap is significant. PUBLIC HEALTH RELEVANCE: The availability of a new general type of toxic gas sensor that offers improved performance and reduced cost will be of great benefit for public health. This would revolutionize and tremendously expand use of gas detectors in diverse applications. New capabilities would become possible as well, including enabling the study toxic gas levels over large areas.