Low-cost, Efficient Water Monitor Created

OAK RIDGE, Tenn., May 13 (UPI) — U.S. scientists say they’ve developed a technology that might replace long-term, continuous monitoring of groundwater for contaminants.

Researchers at Oak Ridge National Laboratory say current laboratory-based technologies for analysis of water contaminants are time-consuming, labor-intensive and expensive compared with their technology.


They said their proprietary system — called membrane-extraction ion mobility spectrometry — is a single compact device able to detect aqueous tetrachloroethylene and tricholoroethylene concentrations as low as 75 micrograms per liter with a monitoring duty cycle of three minutes.

Jun Xu, who led the study, said the system can reduce the cost of long-term monitoring by up to 80 percent.

“Based on this technology, a field-deployable sensor can be made and you would no longer need to have someone take a groundwater sample from a well and ship it to a laboratory for testing,” Xu said. “The ORNL sensor does all three of these tasks in one step and very quickly, saving money.”

He said the sensor can also be configured to monitor well, tap or river water or other water suspected of having an undesirable or possibly illegal level of contamination. Also, additional membranes with different properties can be installed to enable collection of a wider variety of contaminants.

The research that included Yongzhai Du, Wei Zhang, William Whitten and David Watson of ORNL and Haiyang Li of the Dalian Institute of Chemical Physics in China appears in the journal Analytical Chemistry.

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