"Each sample pouch is also pre-marked with a barcode serial number or other data identification means. The barcode can be prepositioned on the tape at predetermined intervals along its entire length, or the reel-to-reel mechanism could insert a barcode onto each pouch as it is formed prior to being cut and stored in the storage container. The barcode is automatically read immediately after collection and the onboard computer system will record the barcode serial number along with any other pertinent information relating to that particular sample such as sampling start and stop times, sample flow rates, sampling duration times and frequencies, and so forth. This information is then stored in a database for access at a later time when the sample is being analyzed.
"The collection tape is preferably coated with a water-soluble coating which allows for easy recovery of the collected particles once the stored pouches are removed for analysis and aids in the complete extraction of the collected material from the tape surface. The water-soluble coating should be applied at least to the collection area of the tape in order to aid in recovery of the sample particulate particles. This coating should not be on the surfaces of the tape which are going to be heat-sealed as this may degrade the sealing effect. In another embodiment of the present invention, it is recognized and anticipated that once the individual sample pouches are heat-sealed to the collection tape, they can remain on the tape and can be collected and stored on the take-up reel in a temperature controlled environment similar to the storage container. This embodiment eliminates the need to cut or sever the tape as previously explained. Instead, the take-up reel can be unrolled and the individual pouches stored thereon can be manually severed from the tape for future analysis. It is also recognized and anticipated that the collection tape can be folded over width-wise, instead of lengthwise, and thereafter either heat-sealed and cut free from the collection tape, or the sample pouches can remain on the take-up reel for storage as previously explained.
"Still further, in another embodiment of the present invention, the buffer fluid is pre-applied to a microfiber pad which is unrolled from a reel and placed in contact with the collected material on the collection tape. The two tapes are then placed in contact with each other and form a sealed pocket around the sample particles. This sealing can occur by either sealing the two tapes together such as through the use of an adhesive on one tape, or via heat-sealing as explained above. Again, the small volume of buffer fluid is included in each pouch in order to help maintain the viability of the sample.
"The present system will enable easy insertion and removal of the collection tape and other tapes similar to the complexity of loading film into a camera. New sterilized tapes can be provided in consumable cartridges which can be easily replaced. In one embodiment, the collection tape will be contained on a reel inside another consumable cartridge. The consumable cartridge will provide secondary containment to the collection tape for safe transport. Where the sample particulate matter is stored on a take-up reel, the stored samples can likewise be contained on a take-up reel which is contained in a cartridge or other containment system for safe storage and transportation. While attached to the present system, the stored samples on the take-up reel can likewise be cooled to an appropriate temperature through the storage or take-up reel.
"After transport to a suitable laboratory or other remote analysis location, any sample of interest can be located via the barcode and removed for processing. To remove a sample, the operator will simply cut the pouch from the strip of pouches, or locate the appropriate severed pouch. The individual samples will remain sealed and the pouch containing the sample of interest will be cut open. Depending upon the final configuration of the sample pouch, an appropriate recovery procedure or protocol will be used to extract the sample particulate matter from the sample pouch.
"The present reel-to-reel electrostatic aerosol collection and storage system can be optimized by varying field density and collection zone length to achieve any stated particle capture efficiency requirement for a particular range of particle sizes and flow rates. Because electrostatic attraction is the collection mechanism, efficient collection can be maintained over a greater range of sampling rates as compared to inertial based collectors. Collection of biological particles using electrostatic precipitation does not affect the viability of the particles. In addition, using selected buffer fluids in a sealed sample pouch further maintains the viability of the sample particles. The present system also includes on-board data storage for recording system status, collection times, and other time-sensitive data. This data is retrievable with the sample pouches or through a secure remote access line. Additionally, an aerosol counter/sizer can be incorporated into the present system and this data will also be stored and retrievable. The present system is also portable and is designed to autonomously operate for an extended period of time on a 110 volt AC power. Due to the low power requirements of electrostatic precipitators, the present system may also include an onboard battery capable of several hours of fully operational collection time in the event of a power outage.
"These and other aspects and advantages of the present system will become apparent to those skilled in the art after considering the following detailed description in connection with the accompanying drawings."
URL and more information on this patent, see: Langle, Joseph M.; Fischer, Michael F.; Egan, James M.; Waller, Alexander J.; Clement, Joseph W.; Radke, Darren J.. Reel-To-Reel Bioforensic Aerosol Collection and Storage System. U.S. Patent Number 8506686, filed
Keywords for this news article include: Technology,
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