Market Analysis of a Naphthenic Acid Biosensor

As an extension of our report on naphthenic acids and regulations by the Canadian government, our team wished to investigate the current market to determine if there exists a niche for our naphthenic acid biosensor.

The full report, complete with references, can be downloaded in PDF format here.


The primary competing methods for the detection of NAs are Fourier Transform Infrared Spectroscopy (FTIR) and various forms of mass spectrometry such as Negative-Ion Electrospray Ion Mass Spectrometry (ESI-MS) and Gas-Chromatography Mass Spectrometry (GC-MS). However, we have calculated the production cost of our prototype to be approximately $40, with replaceable components that have a $2 production cost. Considering that current analytical service companies charge $200 to $500 per sample to analyze NA levels, we believe that our product is an excellent alternative screening method. Customers can quickly and inexpensively screen tailings ponds for NAs and particular samples of interest can then be shipped to analytical service companies to investigate further.

There is a push for the Canadian federal government to include NAs as a potential environmental toxin that must be monitored. Environment Canada is currently reviewing a proposal to add NAs to the National Pollutant Release Inventory, which would mean that future operations must monitor levels of NAs so they do not exceed regulated amounts. The decision will not be made until the end of this year. The Regional Aquatics Monitoring Program 2010 Technical Report has mentioned that current methods are not always consistent between different analytical service companies because they target different NAs. There is a need for more standardized measurement methods.

We believe that our NA biosensor can address this need. This biosensor will hopefully be able to detect levels of NAs regardless of their component acid structures, and by doing so we hope to provide a new standard of measurement. We intend to begin marketing the biosensor to smaller oil companies first before expanding to the larger ones. Eventually we hope to see our biosensor method become a new government standard of measurement.