Indoor Formaldehyde Detection by a Low-Cost Chemical Sensor BasedonOrganic Nanofibers

EPA Contract Number: 68HERD19C0002
Title: Indoor Formaldehyde Detection by a Low-Cost Chemical Sensor BasedonOrganic Nanofibers
Investigators: Later, Douglas W
Small Business: Vaporsens, Inc.
EPA Contact: Richards, April
Phase: II
Project Period: December 1, 2018 through November 30, 2020
Project Amount: $299,606
RFA: Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) - Phase II (2018) Recipients Lists
Research Category: Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) , SBIR - Air and Climate


Need: People are exposed to formaldehyde, a carcinogen found in building materials. Highly sensitive, real-time formaldehyde sensors would improve human safety by alerting users to harmful concentrations.

Technical Feasibility: Vaporsens produces chemical sensors based on novel organic nanofiber technology. Phase 1 results demonstrated high selectivity, rapid-response time, and demonstrated sensitivity to 10 ppb. Phase 2 will improve sensor performance, evaluate reproducibility, and test effectiveness in real-world environments.

Applications: Formaldehyde monitoring in indoor environments, including homes, workplaces, and manufacturing facilities.

Users: consumers, wood product manufacturers, regulators, environmental researchers, property managers, chemical hygienists.

Evidence of Buyers: Vaporsens conducted 100+ interviews with customers who report an urgent need to detect formaldehyde. Vaporsens has been approached by several manufacturers of consumer and professional products with interest in monitoring formaldehyde in indoor environments.

Potential Market Size: The 2016 total indoor air quality market was valued at $8.3B, with equipment valued at $4.2B.

Performance Compared to Other Technologies: Current formaldehyde detectors lack sensitivity and are cross-reactive to common chemicals (e.g., ethanol). Vaporsens sensors are more selective and sensitive at a comparable cost.

Environmental Benefits: Formaldehyde monitoring alerts building occupants to act when concentrations exceed safe thresholds. Increased awareness incentivizes industries to decrease formaldehyde use, reducing emissions.

SBIR Phase I:

Indoor Formaldehyde Detection by a Low-Cost Chemical Sensor Based on Organic Nanofibers  | Final Report