NASA SBIR 2011 Solicitation


PROPOSAL NUMBER: 11-1 S1.08-9696
SUBTOPIC TITLE: In Situ Airborne, Surface, and Submersible Instruments for Earth Science
PROPOSAL TITLE: Quantitative Nutrient Analyzer for Autonomous Ocean Deployment

SMALL BUSINESS CONCERN (Firm Name, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Translume, Inc.
655 Phoenix Drive
Ann Arbor, MI 48108 - 2202
(734) 528-6371

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR/PROJECT MANAGER (Name, E-mail, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Tom Haddock
655 Phoenix Dr.
Ann Arbor, MI 48108 - 2201
(734) 528-6135

Estimated Technology Readiness Level (TRL) at beginning and end of contract:
Begin: 2
End: 4

TECHNICAL ABSTRACT (Limit 2000 characters, approximately 200 words)
Translume, in collaboration with Dr. Joseph Needoba, Oregon Health and Science University, proposes to develop a microfluidic colorimetric sensor for the quantitative measurement of important inorganic nutrients in estuaries, coastal waters, and oceans. The technology will first be demonstrated using the relatively simple analytical approach for measuring nitride. In a subsequent phase we will adapt the instrument to measure ammonium and phosphate. Our device will be designed to be inexpensive and will operate autonomously on oceanographic platforms, such as moored buoys, underwater gliders, autonomous vehicles, or underway sampling devices on ships. It will be designed to monitor range of concentrations (nanomolar to micromolar), and will operate unattended for weeks. It will be extremely robust, use very low volumes of reagents and power consumption will be minimized. Monolithic in nature, fabrication costs will be low, permitting global deployment of numerous field units and enhancing NASA?s Earth science research capabilities. The key advancement is the integration of two analytical chambers in a single glass monolith, with each chamber optimized for a given concentration range. One of the chambers will have a very long pathlength to enable the development of autonomous wet chemistry analyzers for open ocean applications using a variety of platforms and vehicles.

POTENTIAL NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS (Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words)
The NASA Earth science program needs nutrient monitoring sensors (Topic S1.08).
We will develop a submersible, inexpensive microfluidic inorganic nutrient analyzer for coastal and oceanic waters. The low fabrication cost of the proposed robust optical analyzer will allow for its global deployment, thus enhancing NASA?s research capabilities. Our nutrient analyzer will be designed to be deployed from a variety of stationary or mobile oceanographic platforms.
The key advancements of our design are its extreme mechanical and optical robustness, and its ability to detect low (nanomolar) concentrations of analytes using colorimetric approaches. The robustness will be obtained by integrating all key elements in a glass monolith; and the sensibility will be reached by increasing the flowcell absorption pathlength, making it several orders of magnitude longer than that found on standard microfluidic devices. These advancements will enable the development of autonomous wet chemistry analyzers for open ocean applications using a variety of platforms and vehicles. We will initially monitor nitrites. Later on this will be extended to other nutrients such as ammonium and phosphate.

POTENTIAL NON-NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS (Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words)
The concentration of inorganic nutrients in aquatic environments is a fundamental water quality parameter needed for environmental assessment, ecological sciences, and ecosystem stewardship activities. There are growing needs for field-deployable nutrient analyzers designed to monitor nitrogen or phosphorus without the need for manual sample collection or manual attention to the instrument during operation. These needs are poorly addressed by the available commercial instruments owing to their complexity, large physical size, high power consumption and excessive reagent usage.
Translume anticipates our nutrient analyzers will be of interest to two groups: (a) Researchers in organizations needing robust nutrient analyzers for oceanographic/ life science / and seawater research. NOAA, the Navy, watershed monitoring agencies and the makers of research gliders are potential users. There are also major opportunities associated with developments to pursue the use of algae as a biofuel source. This emerging industry will need a means to optimize algae growth, which could be served by a variant of our nutrient analyzers. (b) Regulatory agencies and regulated industries. EPA, water districts, municipal beach agencies, as well as petroleum and energy companies needing to monitor dead zones are also potential users.

TECHNOLOGY TAXONOMY MAPPING (NASA's technology taxonomy has been developed by the SBIR-STTR program to disseminate awareness of proposed and awarded R/R&D in the agency. It is a listing of over 100 technologies, sorted into broad categories, of interest to NASA.)
Analytical Instruments (Solid, Liquid, Gas, Plasma, Energy; see also Sensors)
Chemical/Environmental (see also Biological Health/Life Support)
Lasers (Machining/Materials Processing)
Microfabrication (and smaller; see also Electronics; Mechanical Systems; Photonics)
Optical/Photonic (see also Photonics)

Form Generated on 11-22-11 13:43