A multi-discipline consortium, known as ‘REDFINCH’ (or mid infraREd Fully Integrated CHemical sensors), are developing a new generation of tiny chemical sensors that use light and sound to ‘listen to’ gas leaks.
Fitted to an autonomous patrolling robot, the tiny ‘photo-acoustic’ gas sensors will be part of a wireless network continuously monitoring pipelines that can instantly identify petroleum, hydrogen sulfide, and a number of toxic gases, before alerting operatives in an oil rig or chemical plant.
REDFINCH have combined light together with sound to increase the detection sensitivity of the wavelength ‘fingerprint’ of a gas so that it can be positively identified.
Project dissemination manager, David Williams explains: “To use a monitoring system where lives and expensive equipment are at stake, the ability to act instantaneously is paramount.
“Current detection technology using infrared systems is often large, bulky, slow, and the detectable wavelengths are restricted. By combining a number of different platforms, never considered before with automated gas detection, we have come up with the solution of Photonic Integrated Circuits used with micro Photo-Acoustic Sensors (PIC-μPAS).
“The REDFINCH consortium is developing Photonic Integrated Circuits (PICs), using hybrid and monolithic integration of III-V diode and Interband Cascade/Quantum Cascade materials with silicon to create high performance, cost effective sensors. Essentially using light and sound together allows us to produce a more specific detection and to be more accurate.
“By integrating all the components, such as the laser, the detector and the sensing chamber all onto one single chip, we reduce the possible points of failure and more importantly, the ‘noise’ ratio to improve the sensing capabilities. Shifting everything onto one silicon chip makes things more convenient and less expensive.”
The developed sensors can be quickly scaled up to volume production using the mirPHAB pilot line, an Horizon 2020 funded pilot line for mid-infrared PIC development in Europe, which also closely involves a number of REDFINCH partners.
The REDFINCH consortium secured a grant of €3 993 211.25 from Horizon 2020 via the Photonics Public Private Partnership and hopes to have a prototype ready in 2021.
Participants from five European countries include: CEA-Leti (France, Coordinators); Cork Institute of Technology (Ireland); The University of Montpellier, MIRSENSE (France); Argotech (Czech Republic); Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft zur Förderung der angewandten Forschung, Endress+Hauser process solutions (deutschland) GmbH (Germany); and Technische Universitaet Wien (Austria).
Read the article online at: https://www.hydrocarbonengineering.com/petrochemicals/24102018/new-patrolling-robots-to-eradicate-explosions/