Wireless Decontamination Gas Monitor

EPA Contract Number: EPD05038
Title: Wireless Decontamination Gas Monitor
Investigators: Mlsna, Todd , Haerle, Louis
Current Investigators: Mlsna, Todd
Small Business: Seacoast Science, Inc.
EPA Contact: Manager, SBIR Program
Phase: I
Project Period: March 1, 2005 through August 31, 2005
Project Amount: $66,204
RFA: Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) - Phase I (2005) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: SBIR - Homeland Security , Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) , Health Effects


Seacoast Science, Inc., proposes to fabricate a detector that will monitor the presence and concentration of two chemicals commonly used for building decontamination. Ultimately, this project will yield a small, rugged, lightweight, low-power system designed for continuous unattended operation or handheld battery operation. In unattended mode, the proposed detector will monitor chemical concentration and transmit levels and a detector location identification code wirelessly back to a central control unit. When used in handheld mode, the system will display chemical concentration on an LCD display. The system includes a chemical sensor array optimized for detection of two decontamination chemicals (chlorine dioxide and hydrogen peroxide); a gas sampling system; a radio for wireless communication; and a small, rugged lightweight, and low-power system. Seacoast Science?s microelectrical mechanical systems (MEMS) chemicapacitor technology utilizes an array of surface micromachined capacitors, coated with chemoselective polymer coatings optimized for the volatile decontamination chemicals. Inexpensive production cost, robustness, and low power consumption will result in a compelling detector system able to operate during the early phases of the decontamination process when chemical concentration is high as well as late in the process to determine if the building can be safely reoccupied.

In Phase I, Seacoast Science will develop chemoselective coatings on their existing MEMS capacitor sensors and test these sensors by exposing them to chlorine dioxide and hydrogen peroxide. These sensors will be evaluated by exposing them to the decontamination chemicals at appropriate concentrations under a range of environmental conditions. A breadboard detector system that demonstrates the detection of both chemicals will be built and tested near the end of Phase I. The data then will be evaluated to determine coating needs and processing requirements. This information will be used in Phase II to fine-tune the coatings and ultimately produce four prototype units. These prototypes will be lightweight, portable, and able to detect both decontamination gases and determine their concentrations.

The development work on the MEMS-based sensors proposed for emission gas detection has very broad relevance for a number of commercial applications. These sensors are ideal for monitoring a variety of chemical and physical targets in a distributed network in which a premium is placed on early detection. The low cost, low power consumption, and small size of this technology is expected to enable penetration of market spaces previously inaccessible to existing commercial sensor systems.

Supplemental Keywords:

small business, SBIR, decontamination, gas monitor, chlorine dioxide, hydrogen peroxide, gas sampling system, safe buildings, microelectrical mechanical systems, MEMS, chemicapacitor technology, coatings, EPA, RFA, Scientific Discipline, Air, Ecosystem Protection/Environmental Exposure & Risk, Environmental Chemistry, Monitoring/Modeling, Environmental Monitoring, Engineering, Chemistry, & Physics, Environmental Engineering, gas detector, homeland security, building decontamination, chemical characteristics, field portable monitoring, gas monitoring, human exposue, air sampling, chemical composition, chemical detection techniques, chemical microsensors, gas sensing system, chemically sensitive interfaces, microelectric mechanical systems chemicapacitor technology, chemical attack

Progress and Final Reports:

  • Final Report