Portable Fast GC System for Field Environmental Monitoring and Measurement Problems

EPA Contract Number: 68D01011
Title: Portable Fast GC System for Field Environmental Monitoring and Measurement Problems
Investigators: Klemp, Mark A.
Small Business: Chromatofast Inc.
EPA Contact: Manager, SBIR Program
Phase: I
Project Period: April 1, 2001 through September 1, 2001
Project Amount: $70,000
RFA: Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) - Phase I (2001) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: Ecological Indicators/Assessment/Restoration , SBIR - Monitoring , Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR)


Gas chromatography (GC) systems deliver incomparable performance for the analysis of volatile organic compounds (VOCs). High-speed GC techniques can deliver these advantages with near real-time results. Significant cost reduction can be gained by providing real-time decisions in the field. Chromatofast, Inc., has developed a proprietary, high-speed laboratory GC inlet system that possesses features that are well-suited for a field-deployable instrument. The system generates a narrow injection bandwidth so that chromatographic analyses can be obtained in tens of seconds to a few minutes. In addition to being a high-speed inlet system, the system also can be a sample collection device due to its ability to sample air directly. Adjustable amounts of preconcentration can be obtained through simple, computer-controlled method changes. This feature allows the system to be optimized for speed or sensitivity as required by a particular analysis. The system has the flexibility to be used for screening applications as well as for more detailed separations. Finally, the system has been shown to be highly reproducible to further enhance the confidence of the data.

Successful completion of the proposed Phase I project will result in a high-speed GC laboratory prototype that incorporates a novel, low-powered microcolumn. This system will be demonstrated on a range of applications commonly analyzed in the field. Sample collection and analysis time will be complete within a few minutes. Sample preconcentration of gaseous samples in the field will provide adjustable detection limits from the parts per million to the parts per trillion range. The performance of the microcolumn will be investigated as part of a fast GC system. The microcolumn also will be tested at a variety of ambient temperatures to study its reproducibility under a variety of field conditions. The Phase I project will lead to Phase II research and the development of a fully integrated, portable fast GC prototype instrument. Phase II will focus on making the system more rugged and expanding the GC accelerator unit to control and operate the microcolumn. Further method development will proceed, and a prototype will be demonstrated under field conditions. Adaptations of this portable instrument are applicable to a number of markets, including environmental characterization and monitoring, online in situ monitoring for drinking water, continuous monitoring of organic toxicants in municipal and industrial wastewater, continuous VOC monitoring, organic air pollution emission monitoring, and automotive exhaust emission testing.

Supplemental Keywords:

small business, SBIR, monitoring, gas chromatography, volatile organic compounds, water, air, VOCs, engineering, chemistry, EPA, air sampling., RFA, Scientific Discipline, Air, Toxics, Water, Ecosystem Protection/Environmental Exposure & Risk, air toxics, Chemistry, VOCs, Monitoring/Modeling, Environmental Monitoring, Drinking Water, Engineering, Environmental Engineering, chromatography, monitoring, continuous measurement, environmental measurement, real time, ambient monitoring, gas chromatography, continuous emissions monitoring, measurement, Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs)

Progress and Final Reports:

  • Final