Superfund Research Program
Fast, Quantitative Analysis of Trichloroethylene in Water
Project Leader: Mark Peterman
Grant Number: R43ES026513
Funding Period: Phase I: September 2015 – September 2016
Groundwater contamination by chlorinated compounds is a significant risk to public health. Chlorine-containing compounds, ranging from pesticides to industrial solvents, are slow to degrade through natural pathways. Their wide-ranging presence is notable; for example, the industrial solvent trichloroethylene (TCE) has been detected at more than 1,400 U.S. Department of Defense installations, 23 U.S. Department of Energy installations, and thousands of commercial and residential sites nationwide, including 60% of Superfund sites. Although various remediation techniques are currently being studied, all sites would benefit from rapid, parts-per-billion (ppb)-level monitoring. These compounds are widely present at minute, low-ppb concentrations. At the same time, water sources are threatened by several other pollutants with regulatory limits at ppb-levels.
Currently available laboratory-based tools that can measure these very low concentrations are expensive, complex, and cumbersome. They do not enable the types of rapid, frequent, economical, and broad-based testing needed to adequately monitor the nation's water sources. Next-generation tools to test a wide variety of compounds in water samples at sub-ppb levels in less than five minutes would vastly improve the capabilities of water monitors and researchers. This ability will in turn allow water suppliers to increase monitoring frequency and to implement remediation steps. It will also allow researchers to focus on obtaining more data and a better understanding of the health effects of chronic exposure.
OndaVia is developing the advanced technology that is needed to fulfill these gaps in monitoring chemical compounds. For this project, OndaVia is working to develop, prototype, validate, and commercialize a rapid-analysis instrument to measure compounds in aqueous solution using surface-enhanced Raman spectroscopy (SERS). This instrument relies upon OndaVia's proven and proprietary SERS detection technology that is both sensitive and quantitative, resulting in an easy-to-use, rapid-analysis instrument with few-parts-per-billion sensitivity.
OndaVia is proving the feasibility of detecting TCE at 5-ppb using their unique detector, and determining a quantitative calibration curve for TCE within a range of 0- to 100-ppb. This success will set the stage for follow-up work focused on fully demonstrating and validating the capabilities of the prototype system with the goal of achieving 5-ppb detection levels in field samples in preparation for commercial development with private sector investors and industry partners.