Scientists to develop a versatile Mid-IR light source for gas sensing

07/04/2015

Technical Research Centre of Finland VTT Ltd develops, together with European partners, a novel Mid-IR light source that can be used for spectroscopic gas analysis, for example, when guiding the light through a sample and measuring the spectral transmission of the sample. The light source utilises technology that was originally developed for optical communications applications. Compared to conventional gas sensor technologies, the technology provides better accuracy at a lower price. 

The IR spectroscopy is a powerful tool for multigas analysis. Sensors are mostly based on the use of filters, spectrometers or tuneable lasers. VTT, together with European collaborators, has introduced a novel light source, which can be used for multigas analysis. With the new technology, the wavelengths of light can be selected more accurately and other gas mixtures, which are similar to the selected one, can be excluded.

Due to the fact that the new equipment is adjustable, it is possible to use only one light source instead of several traditional systems. This means that measuring costs are ten times lower compared to traditional spectroscopy measurement.

The market impact is expected to be disruptive, since the devices currently on the market are either complicated, expensive and heavy instruments, or the applied measurement principles are inadequate in terms of stability and selectivity. At the foreseen price level, the proposed approach is extremely competitive against conventional gas sensors.

The source will be validated in several key applications including building ventilation, industrial asset condition monitoring, emission monitoring, gas leakage monitoring as well as process control and safety.

H2020 European consortium, MIREGAS, brings European together world-leading institutes and multinational companies. On the technology side, VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland Ltd leads the programme also providing Si photonics and photonics integration technologies. The Optoelectronics Research Centre at the Tampere University of Technology in Finland will be responsible for developing innovative superluminescent LED technology, and ITME (PL) will develop mouldable Mid-IR lenses.  Industrial partners Vaisala (FI), AirOptic (PL), GasSecure (NO) and VIGO (PL) bring their competences in the areas of  gas sensing and Mid-IR sensor fabrication and at the same time will  be validating the technologies developed by the consortium.

"Vaisala is expecting that the technologies developed within the consortium will enable us to reach a new level of selectivity and accuracy in multigas measurements at competitive price levels. This would open new business opportunities and still strengthen our technological position in providing gas measurements for demanding applications," says Research Scientist Sami Virtanen from Vaisala.

"The project will enable us to extend our gas sensing technology into new market areas. The MIREGAS technology offers a unique mix of sensitivity, selectivity and competitive pricing that will be a complement to our present high-performance, laser-based sensing technology," says CEO Pawel Kluczynski from Airoptic. 

"The project develops technology for producing specific, sensitive, and accurate sensors, at a lower cost compared to existing solutions. GasSecure sees widespread application of methane emission detection as a significant important challenge where the technology developed in MIREGAS can make a major contribution," says R&D Director Håkon Sagberg from GasSecure.

"The MIREGAS project will strengthen VTT's gas sensing application knowledge and it is a fluent continuation of the project chain of FP7-MINIGAS, FP7-PHOTOSENS and several nationally funded projects in the field of gas sensing. VTT brings Si photonics to Mid-IR sensing applications and establishes a photonics packaging value chain in order to accelerate product development and prototyping cycles," says Research Professor Pentti Karioja from VTT. 

The MIREGAS consortium is developing a light source that utilizes Si-based photonic integrated circuit filters and wide-band SLEDs. The source will cover the 2.7 – 3.5 µm Mid-IR wavelength range with < 1nm resolution and allows for the detection of several harmful gas components with a single gas sensor.

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