New air sensor to make chemical plants safer

Date:2020-11-17 18:46:56 Posted by:coowa View:34

Chemical plants will become safer places to work with a reduced risk of injury, chronic respiratory ailments or even death, thanks to a new air sensor being developed to detect toxic and explosive solvents using photonics.

Scientists from the University of Navarra in Pamplona, Spain have teamed up with the EU photonics innovation hub, ACTPHAST 4R to develop a demonstrator for their breakthrough optical sensing technology that detects lethal chemicals that are both dangerous to inhale and highly explosive.

No technology currently exists to perform a real-time, automatic check in fuel tanks for Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) - chemicals that evaporate quickly at room temperature. Technologies that are generally used to monitor these chemicals currently use electronic sensors that need to be heated past 150°.

Emptying giant tanks filled with alcohols, ketones, aldehydes, chloroform, and dichloromethane, chemical plant staff have to ensure no traces of vapour or liquid remain.  

Having to climb inside these giant tanks, workers are under constant threat of causing an explosion from friction or static electricity.  

With the help of ACTPHAST 4R - the EU innovation hub specialising in supporting researchers working in academia throughout Europe to advance their breakthrough scientific concepts into industrially-relevant demonstrators using photonics - the research team from the University of Navarra has managed to successfully develop a demonstrator for their innovative solution to safely identify these toxic and explosive solvents in industrial settings.

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