Flow Probeª Chemical Analyzer


In conventional methods of characterizing contaminated sites, field samples are collected and taken to off-site laboratories for analysis. These methods are inherently expensive and prone to errors due to the many steps involved. Furthermore, slow laboratory turn-around time can result in operational delays. The Flow Probeª Chemical Analyzer solves this problem for a limited suite of chemicals by analyzing the contaminant on-site.

The Flow ProbeTM Chemical Analyzer is an in-situ analytical technology that measures chemicals in both liquid and gaseous states. The device is placed in groundwater, soil or above ground. Contaminants travel across a membrane into a vessel containing a chemical called a reagent. Different membranes allow different contaminants through. The reaction between the reagent and the contaminant produces distinct products, which can be measured by illuminating the reaction with broadband white light. The instrument is designed so many different reagents and membranes can be used within a single probe. By tailoring the reagent and membrane to the contaminants, the instrument can be used to differentiate between similar chemicals

Limitations and Concerns

No limitations or concerns have been identified. However, the technology does not detect all contaminants.


At this time, the Flow Probeª Chemical Analyzer can be used to quantify (1) copper in water, (2) volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in groundwater, and (3) VOCs, specifically trichloroethylene (TCE), TCA, and chloroform, in air. The sensor is compact with a small analysis volume. It has relatively high detection sensitivity (a few parts per billion for many analytes).

Technology Development Status

The technology has undergone several field tests, but is still an emerging technology

Web Links


Other Resources and Demonstrations

The device was tested at two Department of Energy sites and four industrial sites. We have not seen the results of these pilot tests. Contacts: Dianna S. Blair dsblair@sandia.gov and Patrick L. Jones, Center for Process Analytical Chemistry, University of Washington, pljones@u.washington.edu.