A Little History on Wet Foam Elution (WFE)

July 15, 2015

InnovaPrep was founded in 2009 as a manufacturing company based on an invention developed in our Sister company AlburtyLab.  AlburtyLab is an independent research lab located in Drexel MO that primarily deals with, but is not limited to, aerosol research projects. The lab has a recirculating wind tunnel with a sealed test chamber. The test chamber is used to test among other things air inlets, air sampling devices and air monitoring equipment. 

The recirculating air in the test chamber is cleaned using HEPA filters and monitored with a particle counter. Once we have the air cleaned to the predetermined level, metered amounts of test particles are injected into the test chamber. The equipment being tested is monitored and compared to standardized filters and particle counters.

During testing of air sampling systems our founders Dave Alburty and Andy Page discovered a disparity between the samples collected and the detectors used to test the samples. Samplers tended to dispense volumes of 10 or more milliliters, but the devices used to detect what is in the sample can only accept one or two hundred microliters of fluid.  Because of this discovery we began to develop our patented wet foam elution process. We pressurize a fluid with a gas that will dissolve in the liquid, when the solution is released to normal atmospheric pressure it turns into foam, similar to shaking up a pop can and opening the top.

Now we can take the relatively large liquid samples that come from air sampling devices, run them through a filter, and automatically rinse the filter with our foam.  When the foam breaks down to a liquid again it is a very small volume. Most of the particles that were captured in the original sample volume are still present in the greatly reduced volume. This gives the monitor a better chance of detecting anything that might be in the air.  We can also use wet foam in surface sampling applications. Air and surface sampling is important in many places including public transportation, postal services, food processing, livestock management, medical, and military environments, clean room monitoring, microchip manufacturing and forensics.  We have developed a number of devices that use our wet foam elution process, to improve the detection limits of biological detectors and identifiers.

Many of our devices use disposable aerosol cans to hold our pressurized liquid, this allows us to greatly simplify the devices and reduce the per sample cost for the user.  We are presently working on projects with NASA, DHS, FDA, Southern California Costal Water Research Project (SCCWRP), Lawrence Livermore National Laboratories, and a number of commercial bio-detection companies.  Using aerosol cans in our process has given us an opportunity to develop a line of devices that can greatly improve the sampling industries ability to protect the health and wellbeing of people all over the world.