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Real-time Discriminatory Sensors for Water Quality Determination
Initiated: October 2002
Team: Steve Showalter, Pat Lewis, Ron Manginell, David Wheeler, George Dulleck, Wayne Einfeld
America's water distribution systems are vulnerable to contamination either through malicious intent or accidental methods. Online methods such as free available chlorine, total organic carbon and conductivity sensors can quickly determine state changes in the system (assuming good baseline information is available). However, current methods of organic sample collection/analysis are costly, slow and useful primarily for imposition of fines, not for protection of the consumers. Mitigation steps need to be performed immediately, following detection of contaminates in the water system, not days after the sample is collected. Sensors identifying specific contaminants would allow water system operators options to address the problem by suspending water flow in the parts of the system where contamination has been detected. Real time identification of the contaminate(s) would be helpful in determining effective mitigation methods and procedures as well as providing timely notification to the water utility customers. ChemLab
µChemLab
The gas-phase µChemLab developed by Sandia can detect volatile organics (VOCs) and semi-volatile organics via gas phase sampling. This unique, Sandia developed, detection system would have uses for cost-efficient determination of environmental contaminates such as toxic industrial compounds as well as chemical contaminates that might be introduced through malevolent anthropomorphic actions. This versatile device could be adapted for use as a small footprint, low-cost, reliable, sensitive, and quickly deployable water sensor. Purge and trap (P&T) as well as solid phase micro-extraction (SPME) have been demonstrated in proof-of-principle experiments with this device with contaminates of regulatory concern. Chemical weapon hydrolysis products have also been analyzed. Changes to further develop the system would include: sizing to meet required form factor, a front-end condensed phase sampling system, analyte specific coatings/separation methods, possible derivitization methods and calibration standards. Coupled with this is the need for field-testing and determination of system reliability/stability in a condensed phase analysis system.

The goal of this project is to develop, test and deploy a sensor system that can be used to detect volatile and semivolatile materials in water systems at low levels. A secondary goal is to develop this system within a platform that is capable of expansion for future capabilities.


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