Optimised Analysers for Advanced Air Quality Monitoring

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Technology abstract

A german company is offering optimised analysers for advanced air quality monitoring. The analysing unit can detect up to 32 important chemical contaminants in near real time. The system was successfully tested on the ISS. The same method could also be used to monitor the air in closed environments on earth. Examples of this are submarines and mine shafts.

Technology Description

Reliable and timely air analysis in closed environments:
In order for people to survive in space, a suitable environment must be created for them. The so-called life support systems ensure that temperature and humidity are within a comfortable range and that the composition of the air corresponds to a breathable composition. It is not only important to monitor the proportions of carbon dioxide, oxygen and nitrogen, but also to quickly detect possible dangerous impurities in the breathing air. This is particularly important as many of the technical systems around the astronauts contain hazardous substances that can escape into the cabin air in the event of an incident. Previously, air samples had to be taken for this purpose, which could only be analysed on the ground. The analyzer is a sensor that can detect a wide variety of possible contaminants in real time. The system was successfully tested on the ISS. The same method could also be used to monitor the air in closed environments on earth. Examples of this are submarines and mine shafts

Innovations & Advantages

Detect and quantify quasi on-line and simultaneously 32 trace gases with ppm or sub-ppm detection limits

Further Information

The Analyser sucks in ambient air every six minutes during operation and examines it. The analysis is based on Fourier Transform Infrared Spectrometry (FITR) technology. In this process, a beam of infrared light is split into two parts, which are deflected by various mirrors, some of which are movable, and later reunited. On their way they pass through a chamber with the air to be analysed. The reunited beams then hit a detector that converts the light into electrical signals. Using a mathematical function - the so-called Fourier transform - a light spectrum is then calculated from these signals. Every substance in the air has a certain spectrum. The system software then compares the recorded bandwidth with a database of 32 chemical compounds and finds out which of them are present in the examined air. After the analysis, which only takes a few minutes, new air is sucked in and checked. In this way you get a detailed statement about how the air in the station is composed and how it changes over time.

Current and Potential Domains of Application

All areas where air quality is of interest. f.e. U-Boats and mine shafts