Wednesday, July 27, 2011
Stockton Company's Water Analysis Tool on Market
Invention makes it easier to detect metals in water
Stockton-based American Micro Detection Systems Inc. plans to begin shipping its new water-monitoring instrument next month.
Called REX, for real-time elemental X-ray fluorescence, the desktop box can detect a wide range of metals - such as arsenic, lead, selenium, mercury and copper - in low parts per billion concentrations. It can report results nearly instantly, does not require an operator and does not use chemicals.
Robert Kelville, American Micro's chairman and chief executive, said REX is being produced at a new plant in Milwaukee and should be available beginning Aug. 15.
"We've already got people lined up to buy our boxes," he said.
The machine costs upward of $100,000.
Badger Meter Inc., a Milwaukee manufacturer and leading producer of meters and flow controls for water, oil and chemical applications, will distribute the instruments to municipal water customers worldwide.
Badger Meter also made a $1.5 million investment toward the production startup, contingent on a Milwaukee location. And, among other incentives, the city provided a $1 million loan that will be forgiven if the company meets certain job-creation goals.
American Micro was heavily recruited by the Midwest community, Kelville said.
"They really made an effort, and it's paying off," he said.
Kelville, a Valley Springs resident, plans to maintain his headquarters in Stockton, where the company employs about six people, as well as another six at its research facility in Livermore.
The Milwaukee operation employs five people, but that could increase depending on demand and sales for REX.
American Micro, until recently, had been a consulting company largely composed of former Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory scientists and engineers serving various federal government agencies, Kelville said.
But now, the company wants to capitalize on some of the technologies developed through its earlier work.
"We're taking it to market and we moved our headquarters to Stockton to do that," he said.
Besides, Stockton is roughly halfway between Valley Springs and Livermore.
"This is a good environment for us," Kelville said.
Next year, American Micro hopes to expand its product base and introduce Toxic Alert, an instrument that can simply and instantly detect trace amounts of chemicals, such as solvents, surfactants and organic compounds.
Further down the line, Kelville said, are Tape Alert, a cassette-based system, able to detect disease-causing airborne microbes; as well as a pipeline-monitoring instrument that, using sound, can detect and pinpoint changes and flaws in up to 2,500 feet of pipe.
Contact reporter Reed Fujii at (209) 546-8253 or firstname.lastname@example.org.