The sensor will also be able to detect explosives vapours and chemical agents such as nerve gases, when integrated in homeland security sensor systems. Moreover, it could have broader consumer benefits such as improved air conditioning in buildings.
The European Union is funding 2.8m Euro for a project called MINIGAS to develop a tiny, super-sensitive and cost effective gas sensor. The MINIGAS sensor will be less than 2 centimetres in length and at least twice as sensitive as other sensors of its size.
The MINIGAS consortium brings together world-leading institutes and multinational companies from across Europe. VTT leads the programme, with the core photo-acoustic gas sensing technology also coming from Finland via Gasera, a spin-out company from the University of Turku. The Loffe Institute in Russia provides Light Emitting Diode (LED) technology and QinetiQ brings its miniaturisation expertise in addition to leading on exploitation.
Two other multinational companies complete the team - Doble to market the sensor for greenhouse gas applications and Selex to sell MINIGAS to homeland security markets.
The MINIGAS project is funded through the European Union's Seventh Research Framework Programme (FP7). Markus Korn, the European Commission's Project Officer responsible for the project said: "This project will create new hi-tech jobs in Europe in this rapidly growing market."
Ismo Kauppinen, Gasera CEO, said: "High-sensitivity gas sensors could play a key role in monitoring the presence of pollutants in the environment, but need to be smaller, cheaper and more effective."
VTT, Knowledge Solutions | alfa
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