3-dimensional Micro-gas Chromatography Device for Rapid and Sensitive Indoor Chemical Exposure Analysis

EPA Grant Number: R835644
Title: 3-dimensional Micro-gas Chromatography Device for Rapid and Sensitive Indoor Chemical Exposure Analysis
Investigators: Fan, Xudong , Richardson, Rudy J , Kurabayashi, Katsuo
Institution: University of Michigan
EPA Project Officer: Klieforth, Barbara I
Project Period: August 1, 2014 through July 31, 2017
Project Amount: $900,000
RFA: New Methods in 21st Century Exposure Science (2013) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: Health , Human Health , Safer Chemicals


The objective of the proposed project is to develop a portable automated device for rapid (~20 min), sensitive (ppb to sub-ppb) and in-situ analysis of hundreds of (semi-)volatile organic compounds (VOCs) for indoor human exposure assessment.


The device is based on the novel smart e-dimensional (3D) micro-gas chromatography (μGC) design and highly sensitive vapor sensor arrays. Unlike conventional portable GC on the market and comprehensive 2-D μGC being developed in research labs, both of which have limited peak capacity and handle only a small set or limited, well-defined classes of chemicals, the unique design of the smart μGC architecture significantly enhances the GC peak capacity while remaining compact in size, thus enabling real-time (20 min) and in-situ analysis of hundreds of VOCs associated with indoor chemical exposure at the ppb or sub-ppb level. In addition, the smart μGC architecture is highly scalable. If needed, high-dimensional separation (such as 4-D μGC) can be implemented easily, providing even larger peak capacity.

In the proposed work, a complete 3-D μGC device will be developed and built on chip, which will include pre-concentrator, micro-separation columns, flow control, and highly sensitive on-column vapor detector arrays. Operation and data analysis algorithms will also be developed for automation. Approximately 150 chemicals representing various categories of indoor exposures will be used as model systems to characterize and test the device's performance. A corresponding VOC reference library will be created for those chemicals. Finally, the device, in conjunction with the pre-built VOC reference library, will be used to quantitatively analyze 100-150 chemicals in actual indoor environments on the university campus. The device's performance will be benchmarked with a standard GC-Mass Spectrometer system.

Expected Results:

The proposed project addresses the urgent need for "technologies and methods to characterize the presence of hundreds of (semi-)volatile chemicals". Successful completion of the proposed project will provide quantitative information about temporal and spatial distribution of hundreds of indoor chemicals, which is vital in evaluating human exposure to those chemicals and in studying/mitigating health risks associated with such exposures.

Publications and Presentations:

Publications have been submitted on this project: View all 18 publications for this project

Journal Articles:

Journal Articles have been submitted on this project: View all 5 journal articles for this project

Supplemental Keywords:

Air sample, exposome, volatile organic compounds, environmental chemistry, engineering, analytical, measurement methods

Progress and Final Reports:

  • 2015 Progress Report
  • 2016 Progress Report
  • Final Report