Perchlorate, ClO4-, is a small highly water soluble anion created by both geogenic and anthropogenic sources. Anthropogenic sources include solid rocket fuel, matches, dyes, paints, airbag inflators, pyrotechnics, flares, and fertilizers. Human exposure to perchlorate is of concern because of the potential for impaired thyroid function, leading to a number of developmental delays and other medical problems. Most remediation projects rely on ion exchange resin bed reactors that operate in series as a fail-safe measure for when the first resin bed loses its ability to capture perchlorate, namely, its exhaustion-limit. Resin beds and resins are the largest cost item 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 our successful Phase I effort, Advanced MicroLab, LLC (AML) worked with the Prof. Henry 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. Our prototype was field tested at a remediation pilot plant with our collaborators, Applied Research Associates (ARA). Testing post-remediated water, perchlorate was baseline resolved from interfering ions with <1 5g/L limit-of-detection (LOD). Based on S/N, our device matched, if not out-performed, the gold standard, offline Ion Chromatography, in a side- by-side comparison. Additionally, we demonstrated resolution and reproducible detection of other ions in addition to perchlorate, such as, nitrate. In the proposed Phase II work, will transform a proof-of-concept prototype into a near- commercial demonstration unit meeting end-user specifications for online remediation processing. We will develop a companion field portable prototype for water source spot analysis in the field. We will also develop a companion analysis for nitrate and perchlorate from the same water sample.
The Department of Defense alone spends approximately $88 million annually on perchlorate-related research activities, including $60 million for perchlorate treatment technologies. In addition to remediation efforts, untold millions of dollars are spent to barricade contaminated sites and forcing to treat alternative non-contaminated water sources. The majority of the burden for the problem falls on the American citizen either through higher tax rates or municipal water rates. AML provides an innovative technology capable of significantly reducing these burdens through more cost-effective remediation efforts. Our market research conducted in collaboration with remediation technology experts concluded a typical remediation effort would save $0.65 - 1.73 million over a standard 20 year installation lifetime, which translates into a potential savings of $32.5 - 86.4M in California tax dollars alone. More importantly, remediation efforts would be safer, benefiting public health. Remediation facilities have been known to fail with resin release into the public water system. Embedding a monitor within the process can detect malfunctioning equipment or abrupt environmental changes and flag the problem at an early stage before other system components fail.