Microelectrode Array to Enable Robust Water Monitoring for Multiple Contaminants at Sub-Nanomolar Concentrations

EPA Contract Number: EPD12017
Title: Microelectrode Array to Enable Robust Water Monitoring for Multiple Contaminants at Sub-Nanomolar Concentrations
Investigators: McCrabb, Heather
Small Business: Faraday Technology, 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 - Drinking Water Treatment and Monitoring


This Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) project addresses the need for robust, compact, sensitive, low-cost sensors for measurement of contaminants in water. The proposed innovation is the development and validation of an ion-selective microelectrode array, capable of simultaneous detection of multiple species in aqueous environments, with detection limits similar to or exceeding those available using standard laboratory-­based instrumentation. The ion-selective microelectrode array embodies a polymer membrane film coupled with stripping voltammetry to enable detection of a wide range of cations and anions, without the need for a rotating electrode or mercury film. This technology builds on work by Professor Amemiya of the University of Pittsburgh, a consultant to the program. The Phase I objectives are to: (1) show that the ion selective electrode concept can be incorporated onto a microelectrode for detection of perchlorate and lead, and show the potential to meet or exceed the detection limits obtained using laboratory-based instrumentation; and (2) show that the microelectrode concept be extended to a microelectrode array leading to manufacturable, low-cost robust sensors for commercial application.
During Phase I, Faraday will provide a foundation for Phase II product and process development by demonstrating the feasibility of the ion selective microelectrode concept for in-line measurement of lead and perchlorate in water using single microelectrodes, and provide comparison data between the detection limits for the ion selective microelectrodes and the ion selective rotating disc electrodes previously developed by Professor Amemiya. As the single microelectrode concepts prove successful, Faraday will work with Professor Amemiya and Water Analytics, Inc., to design microelectrode arrays, specifically with respect to scale-up and manufacturability. Phase II will concentrate on expanding the range of analytes detected, developing the microelectrode array concept for simultaneous detection of multiple species, and manufacturing and commercialization activities.
Optimization of the ion selective stripping voltammetry process will enable commercialization of a robust, rapid, inexpensive sensor array, in accordance with the EPA’s initiatives to promote the development of novel water monitoring technologies, initially within the recently formed EPA Cincinnati/Dayton/Northern Kentucky water technology cluster, and subsequently throughout the United States. The potential commercial applications for the technology address three major markets: 1) drinking water, including desalination; 2) wastewater, including industrial and municipal; and 3) surface and groundwater monitoring. The market is conservatively estimated to be at least $500 million. An inexpensive and robust species analyzer is anticipated to rapidly infiltrate this market.

Supplemental Keywords:

drinking water, wastewater, surface water, groundwater, lead, perchlorate, aqueous, detection, microelectrode, ion, water monitoring, ion selective microelectrode, in-line measurement, lead detection, perchlorate detection, SBIR

Progress and Final Reports:

  • Final Report