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Advanced Microlabs, LLC

Superfund Research Program

Safe and Cost Effective Water Remediation, Enabled by an Online Perchlorate Analyzer

Project Leader: Philippe Dekleva
Grant Number: R44ES017200
Funding Period: Phase II: September 2008 – July 2012


Perchlorate (ClO4-) is a small, highly water soluble anion used in solid propellant for rockets, missiles, and fireworks. It is found as a contaminant in food and water supplies across the United States. Human exposure to perchlorate is an important health concern and area of active research because it interferes with iodide uptake of the thyroid, potentially decreasing production of thyroid hormones. This can lead to developmental delays in children and metabolic dysfunction in adults.

Most perchlorate remediation strategies rely on ion-exchange resin bed reactors that operate in series as a fail-safe. Resin beds and resins are the largest cost items in the remediation process. If an online monitoring device could be developed that would warn operators of a bed reaching its exhaustion limit, remediation efforts could operate more cost effectively and with greater public safety.

In their successful Phase I effort, Advanced MicroLabs, LLC (AML) worked with Professor Henry's research group at Colorado State University to transform a proof-of-principle laboratory experiment into a proof-of-concept commercial prototype for online analysis of perchlorate. They tested the prototype tested at a remediation pilot plant with their collaborators, Applied Research Associates (ARA), demonstrating resolution and reproducible detection of perchlorate and other ions.

In this Phase II project, Advanced MicroLabs, LLC is working to transform a proof-of-concept prototype into a near-commercial demonstration unit, meeting end-user specifications for online remediation processing. The researchers are: validating the perchlorate assay; developing automated software and firmware; and developing companion capabilities (such as ability to quantify nitrate) to add value to the analyzer. They are also developing a companion field-portable prototype for water source spot analysis in the field.

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