The Application of MASC Technology to the Problem of Contaminant Monitoring for the Water and Wastewater Industries

EPA Contract Number: 68D02009
Title: The Application of MASC Technology to the Problem of Contaminant Monitoring for the Water and Wastewater Industries
Investigators: Orser, Cindy S.
Small Business: Arete Associates
EPA Contact: Manager, SBIR Program
Phase: I
Project Period: April 1, 2002 through September 1, 2002
Project Amount: $70,000
RFA: Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) - Phase I (2002) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: Ecological Indicators/Assessment/Restoration , SBIR - Monitoring , Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR)


The field of biosensors has grown enormously over the last decade. These devices, which couple a biological system such as an enzyme, antibody, or cell surface receptor to electronic monitoring systems are, in principle, ideally suited for the construction of environmental monitors. A significant problem that has limited the broad application of biosensors is the inherent fragility associated with biological materials. Modeling of active site chemistry (MASC) is a technology being developed by Arete Associates to address this problem. MASC technology seeks to reduce complex biological systems down to their essential components and then simulate them with stable synthetic entities. The benefits of this approach are increased stability of the sensor element, reduction in cost to produce and manufacture the device, and the ability to miniaturize components. As a proof-of-principle for the application of MASC technology to water monitoring, Arete Associates has constructed an amperometric nitrate sensor by modeling the enzyme nitrate reductase. Under amperometric conditions, the modified electrode exhibits a linear sensitivity to nitrate at levels starting at 3 ppm NO3-N, up to 100 ppm NO3-N. This Phase I proposal will provide funding to complete the feasibility study of the amperometric sensor through continuing characterization of the electrode selectivity, extended testing of electrode stability (robustness), performing nitrate analysis using standard U.S. Environmental Protection Agency drinking and wastewater solutions, and analyzing samples provided by third-party water and wastewater professionals. Furthermore, during Phase I, a field-testable prototype sensor to be used as a portable device or as an in-line monitor will be built. The Phase I prototype will serve as a platform technology that will be advanced to a multicontaminant analytical device during the Phase II funding period through the addition of newly developed specific chemical detection electrodes for water contaminants of interest, including nitrite, cyanide, phosphate, chromium, mercury, and methyl tertiary butyl ether.

Supplemental Keywords:

small business, SBIR, modeling of active site chemistry, monitoring, wastewater, nitrate, contaminants., RFA, Scientific Discipline, Toxics, Water, POLLUTANTS/TOXICS, Ecosystem Protection/Environmental Exposure & Risk, National Recommended Water Quality, Chemical Engineering, Wastewater, Environmental Chemistry, Arsenic, Monitoring/Modeling, Environmental Monitoring, Water Pollutants, Environmental Engineering, Engineering, Chemistry, & Physics, Drinking Water, Mercury, monitoring, industrial wastewater, detection, field portable systems, cyanide, environmental measurement, field portable monitoring, drinking water regulations, Chromium, MTBE, risk management, chemical contaminants, community water system, field monitoring, chemical detection techniques, analytical methods, analytical chemistry, environmental contaminants, MASC technology, measurement, field detection, biosensors, drinking water contaminants, arsenic exposure, drinking water system

Progress and Final Reports:

  • Final Report