Sunburst Sensors Advances to Phase 3 of $2 Million Wendy Schmidt Ocean Health XPRIZE


Missoula, Mont. (February 20, 2015) - Sunburst Sensors, LLC, a Missoula, Montana based company, has advanced to the third phase of the $2 million Wendy Schmidt Ocean Health XPRIZE, a global competition that challenges individuals and teams to build innovative pH sensor technology that will accurately measure and advance the understanding of ocean acidification. The 14 remaining teams are competing for two prize purses: the $1M accuracy purse, based on performance, and the $1M affordability purse based on cost and usability.

Earlier this month, teams submitted their sensor for a month-long performance test in a coastal environment at the Seattle Aquarium, where each device will make hourly measurements over the course of a 30-day period and have them compared to reference laboratory pH readings. Sunburst Sensors has entered two separate instruments in the competition both based on their existing product, the SAMI-pH. To compete for the affordability purse, Sunburst Sensors developed the iSAMI-pH, with the ‘i’ standing for ‘inexpensive.’

“Because the affordability purse does not require the same level of accuracy or measurements in deep water, we could greatly simplify our design using less expensive parts,” said James Beck, President of Sunburst Sensors. “It’s not pretty but it works well.”

The company has also entered the tSAMI-pH for the accuracy purse, which has a 3000 meter depth requirement. This sensor was designed for the next phase of the competition, which includes deep-sea trials in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of Hawaii that will put devices through real-world depth and pressure scenarios, slated to take place in May 2015.

Sunburst Sensors Advances to Finals of $2 Million Wendy Schmidt Ocean Health XPRIZE

Missoula, Mont. (April 29, 2015) – Sunburst Sensors, LLC, a Missoula, Montana based company, has advanced to the final phase of the $2 million Wendy Schmidt Ocean Health XPRIZE, a global competition to create innovative pH sensor technology that will accurately measure and advance the understanding of ocean acidification.

Beginning on May 14 in Honolulu, teams will board the R/V Kilo Moana, a research vessel owned by the U.S. Navy and operated through UNOLSby the University of Hawaii Marine Center, and embark on a week-long deep sea trial to assess ocean pH values throughout the water column at Station ALOHA, a 110 square mile region in the Pacific Ocean, located approximately 100 miles off the northern shore of Oahu. During this six-day period, sensors will be put through rigorous performance tests focused on stability and precision, while battling real-world pressure scenarios at depths of up to 3,000 meters.

Sunburst Sensors’ ‘tSAMI-pH’ device was designed to handle extreme conditions by using a titanium pressure housing that should allow it to survive the 3000 meters deployment depth. The instrument will collect pH data as it descends and is raised back to the surface.

“We are honored to find ourselves in the finals of the Wendy Schmidt Ocean Health XPRIZE,” said James Beck, Sunburst Sensors CEO. “This contest has brought together some very talented teams and smart people from all around the world. To make it this far is a testament to the hard work we’ve put into our products. It has spurred us to pursue some ideas we might not have tried otherwise. Whatever the outcome, this has been a valuable learning experience for everyone at our company.”

Sunburst Sensors Wins Both Purses of Wendy Schmidt Ocean Health XPRIZE


Missoula, Mont. (July 22, 2015) - Sunburst Sensors, LLC won first place in both purses of the $2 million Wendy Schmidt Ocean Health XPRIZE bringing home $1.5 million. The awards took place on Monday, July 20 at an event hosted by Foreign Affairs in New York City.  Sunburst Sensors entered two devices, both variants on its existing SAMI-pH technology.  The tSAMI entered into the accuracy purse was built to withstand the 3000 meter (1.9 mile) depth requirement in deployments at the Ocean Station ALOHA.  The iSAMI entered into the accuracy purse is a prototype of a forth-coming product meant to be much less expensive for use in shallow deployments.

All five finalists were represented at the gala award ceremony, with ANB Sensors capturing second prize in the affordability purse, and Team Durafet taking second in the accuracy purse. Sunburst Sensors, represented by co-owners James Beck and Michael DeGrandpre, went to the stage twice to collect the first place trophies.

"It's a great honor and a big surprise," said Beck, "We know we make a good sensor, but so do the other finalists," adding that he was extremely proud of his team. "We've achieved something pretty special, especially considering we're such a small company.  My hat is off to everyone at Sunburst Sensors in helping make this happen."

Sunburst Sensors Selected to Provide Instruments for OOI Water Measurements

(From OOI website - January 24, 2012 - original article here)

The Consortium for Ocean Leadership, with funding from the National Science Foundation, has selected Sunburst Sensors, LLC, of Missoula, Montana, to provide pH (PHSEN) and Partial Pressure of Carbon Dioxide in Water Instruments (PC02W) for the Ocean Observatories Initiative (OOI).

Under the $2.5 million contract, Sunburst will provide up to 77 PHSEN and 35 PC02W instruments.

Sunburst Sensors designs and manufactures instruments that measure inorganic carbon parameters pC02, pH and total alkalinity. Sunburst's Submersible Autonomous Moored Instrument (SAMI) measures and logs levels of dissolved chemicals in sea and fresh water.

The SAMI-pH and SAMI-CO2 both use the indicator method for measurement of pH in oceanic waters. Measurement of pH and the amount of dissolved CO2 in seawater are critical to the determination of carbon flux between the ocean and atmosphere, and understanding ecological and climatological effects of ocean acidification.

 Missoula company gets $2.5M grant for sensors to study ocean

(From The Missoulian - February 10, 2012 - original story here)

Already bobbing in waters around the globe, the high-tech sensors developed by a Missoula company have now been commissioned to be part of a long-term study on the changing chemical makeup of the world's oceans.

Mike DeGrandpre's groundbreaking advances in analytical chemistry at the University of Montana have landed his company - Sunburst Sensors - a $2.5 million National Science Foundation contract announced Friday.

During the next three years, more than 100 of Sunburst's Submersible Autonomous Moored Instruments, or SAMIs, will be sent into the oceans as part of the 30-year Ocean Observatories Initiative.

The instruments were developed to test and collect in-depth data on pH and carbon dioxide levels in water.