THWRC Awarded Proposal 515LUB0043H

Project Number:       515LUB0043H

Title:                             Fabric Electrochemical Sensing Array for the Analytical Detection of Toxic

                                     Trace Metals in Drinking Water

Lead PI:                     Evan Wujcik

Awarded Amount:    $30,000




Toxic trace metals consist of metals and metalloids that have been found toxic to ecological and/or biological systems in only trace amounts. Texas is the leading crude oil and natural gas producer in the U.S., and has a growing number of coalmines each year. These activities—along with urban storm runoff, industrial or domestic wastewater discharge, farming, or even by natural occurrence—account for nearly all of the toxic trace metal drinking water contamination. This points out the need for inexpensive and portable toxic trace metal detection systems, which would improve upon the current EPA methods. Through this work an inexpensive fabric electrochemical sensing array for the detection of toxic trace metals in drinking water will be developed for the rapid, sensitive, and selective on-site detection of such contaminants as lead, copper, mercury, cadmium, silver, and iron. The array will consist of an electrospun nylon-6 nanofiber mat functionalized with MWNTs—to form conductive pathways—and calixarene moieties—for selective toxic trace metal transduction. As the ions bind, a characteristic impedance will be observed corresponding to a specific toxic trace metal concentration—the EPA set MCL. The individual toxic trace metal sensors developed—one per toxic trace metal listed above—will be combined into a sensing array able to distinguish individual or multiple toxic trace metals simultaneously in a single water sample droplet. The reason for each ion having its own sensor is due to the fact that the acceptable concentrations vary, and need to be adjusted for (via calixarene surface density, voltage, etc.) individually. Through the approval of this grant proposal, an integrated research program to provide protection of human health and the environment at a reasonable cost will be established within the Materials Engineering And Nanosensor (MEAN) Laboratory at Lamar University in Beaumont, TX throughout months 1-23 (September 2013-July 2015) of the project, totaling a projected cost of about $32,000.