Preconcentration Technology for Infrared Analysis of Organophosphates in Water

EPA Contract Number: EPD12011
Title: Preconcentration Technology for Infrared Analysis of Organophosphates in Water
Investigators: Roy, Eric
Small Business: Orono Spectral Solutions Inc
EPA Contact: Manager, SBIR Program
Phase: I
Project Period: March 1, 2012 through August 31, 2012
Project Amount: $80,000
RFA: Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) - Phase I (2012) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) , SBIR - Homeland Security


Organophosphates currently cannot be analyzed in the field using existing technologies, due to insufficient sensitivity of currently fielded instruments. This inability reduces the number of analyses that a government agency can perform on a water supply to ensure its safety to humans and the environment. The objective of this Phase I effort is to design a novel strategy that preconcentrates organophosphates into a film using reactive materials, which then can be analyzed using attenuated total reflectance (ATR) infrared (IR) spectroscopy. Portable and handheld ATR-IR detection systems currently are used in the field by hazmat teams, first responders, and military units for analyzing bulk material quantities. However, these instruments cannot be used to detect relevant concentrations of organophosphates in solution because ATR IR spectroscopy does not have sufficient sensitivity to measure trace chemicals without a preconcentration step.
This Phase I proposes to address this hurdle by developing a novel preconcentration technology that will enable currently fielded ATR IR spectrometers to make trace measurements in water. Preliminary experiments using simple organophosphates and sulfhydryl hydrolysis product simulants demonstrated the principle that these chemicals can be concentrated into a film using reactive materials and analyzed directly using IR spectroscopy. The Phase I effort will build upon this concept and focus on IR amenable reactive material development that can be used to preconcentrate trace amounts of organophosphates from an aqueous medium and be analyzed using currently fielded ATR IR instruments. In particular, the proposed preconcentration technology will enable ppm-ppb detection levels for a broad range of chemicals, including pesticides, toxic industrial chemicals and chemical warfare agents. A material and technology downselect will occur near the end of Phase I, and the best performing materials and detection strategies will be the basis for an initial prototype design that will undergo extensive testing (e.g., identification of a wide range of organophosphates, determining figures of merit, potential live agent testing and matrix interference testing) in Phase II.
If successful, it is anticipated that market penetration and adoption of this technology will be high since the technology is being developed as an enabling sampling method to be used with validated instruments. Furthermore, Orono Spectral Solutions (OSS) has established strategic working relationships with the companies that build portable IR spectrometers for hazmat teams, first responders and the military. Therefore, OSS will be well positioned to leverage these industry relationships to establish licensing and/or joint product development agreements during Phase II/Phase III commercialization efforts.

Supplemental Keywords:

organophosphates, water supply, detection, attenuated total reflectance infrared spectroscopy, hazmat response, homeland security, toxic chemicals, chemical warfare agents

Progress and Final Reports:

  • Final Report