Development of a Smart PFAS-Collector for High-Throughput PFAS Detection
Award last edited on: 4/9/2022

Sponsored Program
Awarding Agency
Total Award Amount
Award Phase
Solicitation Topic Code
Principal Investigator
Alexis Wells Carpenter

Company Information

AxNano LLC

527 Bridge Street Suite 301
Danville, VA 24541
   (540) 230-3881
Location: Single
Congr. District: 05
County: Danville city

Phase I

Contract Number: 1R43ES033585-01
Start Date: 9/1/2021    Completed: 8/31/2022
Phase I year
Phase I Amount
Rising awareness of the ubiquity of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) coupled with 2 growing evidence of human health hazards has led to increased PFAS testing of water sources 3 that feed drinking-water supplies. Early estimations of the PFAS treatment market are at $3.1Bn, 4 with testing representing a key revenue driver. While highly accurate, current high resolution mass 5 spectroscopy (HRMS) PFAS detection methods have high per sample costs and long turnaround 6 times. The specialized equipment is expensive and requires skilled personnel and laborious 7 sample preparation. As a result, budget-strapped stakeholders may limit the comprehensive 8 testing needed for site assessment. Long turnaround times can mean continued community9 exposure and uncertainty of clean-up progress. AxNano is developing a low-cost, high-10 throughput, portable PFAS-detection method. We aim to initially develop this as a screening tool11 for environmental engineers to provide real-time data of elevated PFAS levels to inform exposures12 and further testing needs. Long-term goals are to achieve specificity and detection limits13 necessary for receiving EPA approval. This technology meets the specific Superfund Research14 Program need of "nanotechnology-based sensors" to "characterize [and] monitor hazardous15 substances at contaminated sites".16 The specific objectives of this Phase I SBIR program are the development of and bench-scale17 testing of AxNano's PFAS-targeting "smart" collector, which is a key component of our high18 throughput PFAS detector. The long-term objectives of this multidisciplinary technology19 development program will integrate material science, advanced spectroscopy, and data analytics.20 The key innovation in this work is unique PFAS-targeting nanoparticles that will produce a21 fluorescence signal upon binding PFAS. Our initial goal is ppb level detection, and ultimately ppt22 to meet regulatory requirements. Specific tasks of this Phase I include lab-scale manufacturing of23 a suite of surface-modified fluorescent nanoparticles and testing for PFAS-targeting and -24 detecting abilities. Promising candidates will be down-selected according to specific criteria and25 integrated into a pre-prototype "smart" collector, which will then be tested at bench-scale. Phase26 I will test proof-of-concept against standard solutions of perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA),27 perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS), and an Aqueous Fire Fighting Foam (AFFF) Ansulite.28 Additional tasks involve preparing for prototyping and broader PFAS compound testing in realistic29 environments in Phase II.

Public Health Relevance Statement:
Project Narrative Municipalities and private well users nation-wide are becoming aware of the ubiquity of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS)-impacted drinking water and the corresponding human health concerns regarding exposure. Current testing methods require specialized equipment such that samples often must be shipped to contract laboratories, with high per sample costs and long turn- around times. To address the need of a low-cost, easy to use, portable PFAS-screening tool, AxNano is developing a fluorescent-based optical detection method initially intended for use by municipalities for screening drinking water, and ultimately could be used more broadly for private well testing and groundwater testing for contaminated site assessment. The broad impact of this program is to develop a PFAS testing method that is easily accessible in order to decrease the risk of PFAS exposure across society.

Project Terms:
Acids ; Anions ; Awareness ; Budgets ; Charge ; Communities ; Environment ; Equipment ; Exercise ; Exhibits ; Fingerprint ; Fire - disasters ; Fires ; fire ; Fluorescence ; Goals ; Hazardous Substances ; HAZMAT ; Hazardous Materials ; haz mat ; Health ; Human ; Modern Man ; Industry ; instrumentation ; Laboratories ; Maps ; Methods ; Electron Microscopy ; Optics ; optical ; Privatization ; Program Development ; Research ; Plant Resins ; resin ; Risk ; Ships ; Signal Transduction ; Cell Communication and Signaling ; Cell Signaling ; Intracellular Communication and Signaling ; Signal Transduction Systems ; Signaling ; biological signal transduction ; Societies ; Solvents ; Specificity ; Spectrum Analysis ; Spectroscopy ; Spectrum Analyses ; Mass Spectrum Analysis ; Mass Photometry/Spectrum Analysis ; Mass Spectrometry ; Mass Spectroscopy ; Mass Spectrum ; Mass Spectrum Analyses ; Structure-Activity Relationship ; chemical structure function ; structure function relationship ; Technology ; Testing ; Time ; Waste Products ; Water ; Hydrogen Oxide ; Water Supply ; Work ; Health Hazards ; Measures ; Uncertainty ; doubt ; base ; detector ; sensor ; improved ; Site ; Surface ; Solid ; Phase ; Chemicals ; Chemical Structure ; Screening procedure ; screening tools ; Training ; Exposure to ; Contracting Opportunities ; Contracts ; tool ; programs ; fighting ; Source ; consumer product ; groundwater ; ground water ; light scattering ; physical property ; functional group ; landfill ; drinking water ; aqueous ; Municipalities ; novel ; Devices ; Manpower ; personnel ; Human Resources ; Sampling ; Property ; nano tech ; nano technology ; nano-technological ; nanotech ; nanotechnological ; Nanotechnology ; portability ; water monitoring ; water quality monitoring ; water testing ; Molecular Interaction ; Binding ; Address ; Data ; Detection ; Imaging Instrument ; Imaging Tool ; Imaging Device ; Measurable ; Resolution ; Optical Methods ; Small Business Innovation Research Grant ; SBIR ; Small Business Innovation Research ; Monitor ; Preparation ; Development ; developmental ; Environmental Engineering technology ; environmental engineering ; Image ; imaging ; cost ; design ; designing ; nanoparticle ; nano particle ; nano-sized particle ; nanosized particle ; Outcome ; Coupled ; innovation ; innovate ; innovative ; multidisciplinary ; exposed human population ; human exposure ; fluorescence imaging ; fluorescent imaging ; prototype ; Superfund ; screening ; Assessment tool ; Assessment instrument ; materials science ; Data Analytics ; Formulation ; exposure route ; contaminated drinking water ; drinking water contamination ; perfluorooctanoic acid ; perfluorooctanoate ; manufacturability ; detection limit ; detection method ; detection procedure ; detection technique ; feasibility testing ;

Phase II

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Start Date: 00/00/00    Completed: 00/00/00
Phase II year
Phase II Amount