East Hartford, Conn. company receives EPA research contract to develop early warning sensor for drinking water supply contamination

On March 9, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced that Real-Time Analyzers Inc. of East Hartford, Conn. received $70,000 from the EPA Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) contracts program. Real-Time Analyzers Inc. was chosen from 363 applicants across the country.

The team at Real-Time Analyzers Inc. will develop a chemical sensor for water distribution systems that can provide an early warning of contaminated water supplies. The early research will develop the sensors to selectively detect the hydrolysis products of several chemical agents, toxic industrial chemicals and pesticides at very low concentrations (below 1 milligram per liter) in flowing streams. Detection will be accomplished in 10 minutes.

"EPA is pleased to assist Real-Time Analyzers Inc. in the development of their new technology," said Robert W. Varney, EPA's regional administrator. "This small business research contract is an important boost for a small business and will undoubtedly assist Real-Time Analyzers Inc. in funding a new technology for improved drinking water protection."

The company plans to conduct future research that will combine the sensors with optical probes that tie into selected water-distribution points. Researchers will target 30 priority chemicals and develop multiplexing software that is compatible with supervisory control and data acquisition systems. Under a subcontract, sensitivity, selectivity and process capabilities will be evaluated using actual chemical warfare agents at the Aberdeen Proving Ground in Maryland.

"We are honored that EPA selected our proposed technology to address this important homeland security issue. This funding is critical to developing our new chemical sensing technology, which we hope one day will protect our drinking water supplies from both intentional poisoning and unintentional contamination," said Dr. Stuart Farquharson, president and CEO of Real-Time Analyzers Inc.

The 22 million small businesses in the United States employ about 51 percent of the private work force and develop most of the country's new technologies. Years ago, Congress recognized the need to strengthen the role of small businesses in federally funded research and development and passes a law creating the Small Business Innovation Research program for businesses with no more than 500 employees. EPA's highly competitive SBIR program offers critical financial support to small businesses to develop the best, new, innovative technologies. EPA's SBIR program focuses on important areas related to environmental protection, including clean air and water, hazardous and solid wastes, pollution prevention, remediation, and monitoring. Recent issues include homeland security, clean-up technologies and technology solutions for specific environmental needs.

The SBIR's next solicitation for developing environmental technologies will open on March 24, 2005 and close on May 25, 2005. To learn more about these research projects and EPA's SBIR program, please visit www.epa.gov/ncer/sbir.

This article originally appeared in the 03/01/2005 issue of Environmental Protection.

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