This Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase II project will move OndaVia?s water contaminant detection technology from proof-of-concept to commercial prototype. As experts in microfluidic design, OndaVia uses its innovations to manufacture devices that provide near real-time, precise water analysis in the field. Our Phase I SBIR project goal was to prove the feasibility of detecting 100 part-per-billion-level water contamination using an embedded surface-enhanced Raman spectroscopy (SERS) region within a microfluidic channel?a goal achieved with excellent results. The objective of this Phase II effort is to build a prototype water analysis system, the anticipated results of which will set the stage for rapid incorporation of this proprietary detection technology into OndaVia?s line of analytical instruments. The broader impacts of this research are emphasized by the belief that the world is running out of ?quality? water. Reservoirs are depleting, ground water is frequently contaminated through petroleum extraction, and new industrial contaminants are found in lakes and rivers every day. Typical analysis requires collecting a sample in the field and shipping the sample to a test laboratory; water monitoring agencies depend upon these outsourced laboratories where transport and processing time can take days to produce results, wasting precious time when the health of a community is at stake. Field-ready, real-time measurement tools that detect a wide array of compounds at a parts-per-billion or better level would be a powerful, valuable, and necessary addition to the water testing toolbox.
The United States is in the midst of an energy boom. Hydrocarbon production via unconventional methods—such as hydraulic fracturing—opens the door for the United States to lead the world in oil production. These advanced production methods, however, require advanced chemical analysis tools. As an innovator in advanced chemical analysis, OndaVia is positioned to be the provider of choice for companies demanding fast, accurate testing in the oilfield and at the refinery. Time counts for chemical analysis. Fast, accurate monitoring increases yields and reduces costs. OndaVia was founded in 2009 to commercialize a fast, accurate, microfluidics-based water analysis system that enables real-time, trace-level chemical analysis. This system is ideally suited for the chemical analysis needed in a variety of industries—from oil and gas to chemical, environmental, and agricultural industries. Although OndaViaâ€™s customers require rapid chemical testing—real-time, analytical results that can be applied to monitor and adjust industrial processes—there are few fast, on-site or in-plant testing methods. Process operators are forced to send samples for expensive, time-consuming laboratory testing. This cost, distance, and delay limit the data available for accurate process control. The OndaVia analysis system consists of a small, transportable instrument, and a disposable, chemical-specific cartridge. These two components improve analysis time from days to minutes, while providing laboratory-grade detection capabilities in the field. This approach addresses our customer need for rapid, on-site chemical testing at the necessary accuracy and detection limits. The key technologies that enable rapid chemical detection leverage the decades-old state-of-the-art: chemical separation followed by spectroscopic detection. OndaViaâ€™s first innovation replaces slow, cumbersome chromatography systems with a thumb-sized, microfluidic device. This patented separation technology is coupled with a compact Raman spectrometer for detection. To magnify the response signal, OndaVia uses a second, patented technology to embed surface-enhanced, Raman-spectroscopy-active particles in the microfluidic device. The union of these two technologies, backed by seven issued or allowed US Patents, enables quick and convenient chemical analysis. Example applications include measuring monoethanolamine in refinery overhead water; testing groundwater for perchlorate contamination at EPA Superfund sites; or identifying the selenium content from waste water at coal-fired power plants and oil refineries. This Phase II SBIR project has enabled the OndaVia team to develop commercial or near-commercial products for each of these applications. Over the course of this multi-year Phase II SBIR project, the OndaVia team has moved our technology from a feasiblity demonstration to full commercial product. We have advanced the state of the art for Raman-spectroscopy-based chemical analysis with fast, easy-to-use, quantitative tests. The team has grown from two people to seven full-time employees designing and manufacturing the next generation tests for our customers. Rapid, on-site testing is a powerful need for our customers, who have been uniformly impressed at the demonstrated power and simplicity of our system. Our key customers have avoided deploying laboratory equipment due to the procurement cost and operating complexity. With an OndaVia system, the customer can bring the test in-house and get the results in minutes for the same cost as an outsourced test. A single instrument that measures all contaminants would have broad impact for those that regulate, produce, and monitor water.