Although the technologies involved in water analysis are complex, they’re vital to ensuring the world’s supply of safe drinking water sources. Recognizing the need for faster, more accurate data, Canadian lab Maxxam Analytics and University of Waterloo’s Dr. Janusz Pawliszyn have partnered to develop a new solution for sample collection.
“The classic way of collecting and analyzing samples really hasn’t changed in the last 30 years,” explains Bryan Chubb, Maxxam’s VP of business development. “Dr. Pawliszyn’s research takes a different approach. We haven’t really seen this kind of solution in the literature—it’s very exciting.”
Ontario’s Ministry of Economic Development and Innovation, along with Gerstel, PAS Technologies, and Supelco Analytical are also partners in the initiative.
Pawliszyn’s award-winning solid phase microextraction (SPME) technology allows rapid sample collection and on-site extraction of contaminants of concern without the use of organic solvents. The result is more environmentally friendly and produces faster and more reliable data.
Currently, Pawliszyn’s focus is on the elimination of organic solvents from the sample preparation step to facilitate on-site monitoring and in-vivo analysis. He’s also exploring application of computational and modelling techniques to enhance the performance of sample preparation, chromatic separations, and detection. An additional area of interest involves the development and application of imaging detection combined with microseparation approaches.
A win-win partnership
Maxxam’s five-year, in-kind laboratory and research support will allow Pawliszyn’s team to take full advantage of the company’s institutional knowledge base. “Maxxam has expertise in practicality,” Pawliszyn adds. “They know, from working in real-world situations, what type of customization is needed. They also have more experience with regulatory agencies.”
“There’s a wealth of knowledge, expertise, and experience within these walls,” agrees Terry Obal, Maxxam’s director of scientific services and development. “That adds real value to this type of work.”
The partnership is by no means one-sided. An important goal is to make the sampling process more cost effective, thus providing further competitive advantage for businesses—including Maxxam. “Working with a group like Dr. Pawliszyn’s is a wonderful opportunity. It will help us develop a genuine solution for our clients and make a departure from the historic norm,” Obal says. “The end product will advance science and help solve real problems that the market faces.” WC
In the spirit of Water’s Next, Water Canada’s annual celebration of excellence (included with the January/February 2012 issue), Groundbreakers is a year-round column that celebrates progress and partnership in the Canadian water sector. To suggest a profile, email kerry (at) watercanada (dot) net.
Photo: University of Waterloo