Gas sensors developed in a European project now enable industry to produce
considerably cheaper and smaller measuring devices. Speed and sensitivity are as
good or even better than that of current laboratory-grade devices.
Sensitive, portable measuring devices can be used to detect trace gas in the
environment. There are a number of potential applications for the technology,
for example in health care and air pollution monitoring. The technology can be
used in the security sector for preventing terrorism and monitoring workspaces.
Two devices were constructed under the MINIGAS project, one capable of
detecting extremely low levels of methane in the air, and the other of measuring
rapid changes in carbon dioxide and water vapour levels as part of challenging
research into climate change. The performance of these portable measuring
devices matches that of existing laboratory-grade products.
VTT's role in the project was to develop LTCC packaging and integration
technologies suitable for miniature optical sensors.
Several measurement technology companies are preparing to start production
based on the new technology. Furthest advanced is Finnish-based Gasera Ltd,
which already uses the parts developed in the project in its current gas
sensors. The company hopes to be selling new products based on the technology
within three years. Measurement device suppliers Selex (Italy) and Dräger
(Germany) and LED component developer and manufacturer IOFFE (Russia) are also
planning to launch new products in the next few years.