MEMS-Based Volatile Organic Compound Monitor

EPA Contract Number: EPD04014
Title: MEMS-Based Volatile Organic Compound Monitor
Investigators: Doppalapudi, Dharanipal
Small Business: Boston MicroSystems Inc.
EPA Contact: Manager, SBIR Program
Phase: I
Project Period: March 1, 2004 through August 31, 2004
Project Amount: $70,000
RFA: Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) - Phase I (2004) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: Air Quality and Air Toxics , Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) , SBIR - Air Pollution


Boston MicroSystems, Inc. (BMS), proposes to develop a MicroElectroMechanical System (MEMS) based volatile organic compound (VOC) monitor by integrating analyte-specific polymer films with SiC-AlN microresonators. In this research project, BMS and the Naval Research Laboratory will integrate microresonators and polymer films with functional groups sensitive to aromatic compounds (e.g., benzene and toluene); halogenated hydrocarbons (e.g., methylene chloride); and aromatic alcohols (e.g., phenols and catechols). When exposed to hazardous air pollutants, the polymer films absorb the vapors, increasing their mass and resulting in a shift in the resonant frequency that is proportional to the pollutant concentration. The proposed MEMS-based sensor system is compact and robust, and has low cost and power requirements, and high sensitivity. By using an array with multiple sensors, each with high sensitivity to a particular pollutant, a high selectivity is achieved. The fully functional multichannel monitor is anticipated to be a battery-powered instrument consisting of a microresonator array, drive/sense electronics, rechargeable power supply, visual display, self-test, data storage, and an interface for data downloading.

The proposed volatile organic monitor will provide a compact handheld or remotely operated instrument that enables rapid, real-time, low-cost measurement of multiple pollutant gases for industrial applications as well as for U.S. Environmental Protection Agency field agents. Primary applications include: (1) emissions monitoring in smokestacks and exhaust streams of chemical, pharmaceutical, and power-generating plants and refineries; (2) leak detection and process control near industrial machinery and processes with potential hazardous emissions; (3) monitoring a wide range of source locations in and around industrial facilities, as "residual risk fenceline monitors"; and (4) toxic dump sites. Other commercial applications include: (1) measuring VOC and hazardous air pollutant emissions from thin-film radiation-cured coating processes; (2) air quality control in buildings and sensors coupled with heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems ("sick building syndrome"); and (3) air quality testing in confined chambers, tunnels, and mines.

Publications and Presentations:

Publications have been submitted on this project: View all 1 publications for this project

Supplemental Keywords:

small business, SBIR, MicroElectroMechanical System, MEMS, volatile organic compound, VOC, monitor, SiC-AlN microresonator, polymer film, hazardous air pollutant, HAP, emissions, Naval Research Laboratory, EPA., RFA, Scientific Discipline, Ecosystem Protection/Environmental Exposure & Risk, POLLUTANTS/TOXICS, Environmental Chemistry, Chemicals, Monitoring/Modeling, Analytical Chemistry, Environmental Monitoring, Atmospheric Sciences, chemical characteristics, microanalyzer, HAPS, microsensors, micro electromechanical system, air quality model, Phenol, aromatic compounds, Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs), aerosol analyzers, atmospheric chemistry

Progress and Final Reports:

  • Final Report