2020-107 – Ion Exchange Membrane Separated Two Electrode Flow Analyzer for Continuous Aqueous Electrochemical Heavy Metal Detection

Background Contaminationof ground water by heavy metals is a major health risk. Heavy metals are knownto be naturally occurring compounds, but various industrial activities introducethem in large quantities into the environment. According to the World HealthOrganization, even minute concentrations (10 micrograms per liter), of arsenic oxyanions,in aquifers are considered dangerous to human health. Regular exposure at orabove this level can lead to renal toxicity and arsenicosis, resulting inpainful skin lesions. Based on technological developments that have and willcontinue to rely on heavy metals, such as arsenic and lead humanity’sprogression into the future could see these heavy metals pervasively invadingand contaminating sources of fresh drinking water. Additionally, concentrationsof naturally occurring metals in surface or ground waters can switch betweensafe and unsafe concentrations based on seasonal variance, such as increased ordecreased rainfall. This means a snapshot laboratory analysis of theirconcentrations could show that the water is safe in one season, but couldpotentially be unsafe in another. Therefore, there exists a need for an inline,continuous monitoring device, that can identify and analyze a wide range ofpotentially dangerous, heavy metal contaminants found in ground water aquifers. Technology Description Researchers atthe University of New Mexico have developed an inline electrochemical cell, to analyzeheavy metal concentrations in water. Comprised of an ion exchange membrane(IEM) and corresponding electrodes, this novel invention allows for control ofion selectivity and diffusivity; as well as, determining the pH of the analysis.Increased sensitivity, selectivity and ease of use enable this technology tosample and analyze a wide range of potential metal analytes. In addition, byallowing continuous water source determination and creating a stable potentialreference electrode, this electrochemical cell can substantially impact aqueousheavy metal analysis. Gregg Banninger GBanninger@innovations.unm.edu 505-272-7908

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