Long-term continuous monitoring of ground water where contaminants are present or suspected could be streamlined with a technology developed at the Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory.
A new method introduced in a paper published in Analytical
Chemistry combines a membrane tube and an ion mobility analysis
system, or analyzer, creating a single procedure for in-situ monitoring of
chlorinated hydrocarbons in water.
"Our technology represents a low-cost yet highly
accurate way to monitor contaminants in water and air," says Chemical
Sciences Division researcher Jun Xu, the lead researcher for the project.
The 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 3 minutes. Xu notes that this technology would reduce
the cost of long-term monitoring of contaminants in ground water 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 ground water
sample from a well and ship it to a laboratory for testing," Xu says.
"The ORNL sensor does all three of these tasks in one step and very
quickly, saving money."
water monitoring, however, is just one example of the technology's
capabilities. The sensor also can be configured to monitor well water, in
addition to tap, river 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
New Technology for Ground Water Monitoring
May 11, 2010