Western Washington University chemistry and engineering technology students helped companies in Bellingham and Seattle to develop testing applications for a spectral pattern identification device that recently won a prestigious Prism Award from SPIE, the international society for optics and photonics.
Javelin LLC of Bellingham and Visualant Inc. of Seattle were awarded the SPIE Prism Award for Photonics Innovation for the ChromaID, which uses the light and the color spectrum to quickly and inexpensively analyze water, foods, drugs, soils and other substances.
The award was one of two in the Prism Award’s Green Photonics category at the SPIE Photonics West event in San Francisco.
ChromaID uses light-emitting diodes and photo diodes to analyze substances by measuring light wavelengths. For example, the low-cost photospectrometry device can be used to test water for impurities such as lead, chromium and other toxins. ChromaID has other potential applications in food safety, nutrition, law enforcement, environmental monitoring and industrial quality.
Western students worked with David Rider, assistant professor of chemistry, and Eric Leonhardt, director of Western’s Vehicle Research Institute, to develop a database of standard samples to calibrate the ChromaID. The database will help enable the ChromaID to provide highly informative measurements outside of an analytical lab setting, Rider said. Work by Western students and faculty was included in the application for the SPIE Prism Award.
Leonhardt also hopes the technology can be used in the VRI’s “Cow Power to Horsepower” project, which explores the use of biomethane as a transportation fuel. The ChromaID technology can be used for real-time testing of biofuels and processing liquids, Leonhardt said.
“We have been working with the Vehicle Research Institute’s Eric Leonhardt of Western Washington University for testing the new technology for the automated processing of biofuel,” said Matthew Creedican, Javelin co-founder. “This kind of collaboration is a great benefit to students as well as to Javelin’s future market focus.”
Javelin develops applications for optics and photonic technologies within the green and renewable markets as well as for fuel, environmental and water quality testing. Javelin has its own geothermal project in southeast Oregon and works with universities and companies to market groundbreaking patented technologies within the environmental, fuel production and hybrid automotive industry.
“The Prism Award is a mark of excellence within our industry,” said Pete Purdy, Javelin co-founder. “We’re proud to be recognized for excellent achievement within the fast growing field of spectral photometry and environmental applications.”