Membrane-based Microfluidic Devices in the Design of a Space Compatible Carbon Analyzer 2000-01-2516
The development of a new microfluidics based carbon analyzer that is capable of generating chemicals needed in the analysis is described. The analyzer design is based on several components, an electrochemical cell, a membrane conductivity sensor, and an electrochemical water de-ionizer, which utilize porous membranes such as proton exchange membrane, gas separation membrane, and ion exchange membrane n their operation. These membrane-based microfluidic devices (MBMD) allow miniaturization of the carbon analyzer into a compact instrument which will provide high sensitivity and low power consumption. Each of the membrane-based microfluidic components was fabricated and their functioning tested over a broad range of inorganic or organic carbon content in water samples. The volume of the sample can be up to 100 times smaller than that used in currently available instruments providing higher sensitivity and much shorter measurement times compared to the available large sample volume instrumentation. The instrument is designed to be compatible with microgravity operation, will require no storage of hazardous chemicals on-board the spacecraft, and will be simple to operate.