Dr. Wade has been developing automated methods of chemical analysis since 1981. Ursa Technologies was founded in 1994. Whilst working on Sequential Injection Analysis (SIA), Flow Injection Analysis (FIA), and other automated methods with B.C. Research Inc., it became clear that, for instrumentation to progress from research laboratory to real-world use (including process floor), it needed to become more robust, more easily maintained, and affordable. Also, that incorporating the intelligence of a research laboratory expert into software that controls chemical sensing systems would provide higher quality data and allow better system and sensor diagnostics.
Our analyzer technology is intended to host more than standard visible and ultra-violet light absorbance measurements. We have developed CPVC flow cells for simultaneously measuring turbidity and absorbance. We can measure phosphorescence and fluorescence. We have developed a very long pathlength CPVC cell for measuring trace levels of reactive gases, such as might be needed for environmental protection. We have pH, ORP, ion-selective electrode, conductivity and thermal sensors in house awaiting suitable analytical applications. Software and hardware have been designed to host more than one type of sensor simultaneously, allowing determination of more than one analyte.
Initial applications have been to continuous processes where, generally, the analyte concentration is expected to approach steady state, with deviations positive or negative to the ideal concentration value triggering relays (to bring the concentration back to within bounds) and (where necessary) alarms. We have extended analyzer applicability to batch systems, such as bioreactors. The progress of each batch reaction may be monitored by (a) reduction in starting materials, (b) detection of formation and consumption of intermediates, and/or (c) formation of product(s). This requires a different approach in software. Each application will be different, and software must be tailored to the needs of the operator.
Spectrophotometric determination of highly coloured analytes can be done directly, and without need of further reagents. Use of reagents allows determination of chemical species that are less easy to measure directly, for example ozone, which in a standard inverse method quantitatively decolourizes the highly coloured reagent. Reagent chemistries also allow lower analyte concentrations to be measured, and provide improvements in selectivity in cases where there may be interferent species in solution. We are presently working on automated high precision reagent addition systems to expand the range of addressable chemistries.
Every process application is different, and an off-the-shelf product may not provide as useful a solution as one that is custom designed. Custom design ensures that all features of the process are considered. Examples of featues that might cause problems to off-the-shelf systems include dirty process streams, streams that contain more than just the analyte, and low and high ambient temperature environments.
We are actively seeking opportunities to adapt our technology for use in new applications and co-develop robust optimal automated process and environmental monitoring solutions in the following areas.
We are working on ways to extend the range of concentrations that can be measured, both in on-line analyzers and hand-held units.