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Light sniffing. (Technology Focus).

A company in Pittsburgh is marketing a photoacoustic infrared sensing system to detect and monitor gas emissions in the paint and plastics industries. According to Allan Roczko of the Mine Safety Appliances Co., the device can detect toluene and other aromatics, alcohols, chlorinated hydrocarbons, ketones, and esters, which pose hazards in those industries.

Roczko is product line manager for the product, called the Chemgard infrared gas monitor. He described the system as photoacoustic.

The unit can hold as many as eight samples, which are exposed to infrared light. Optical filters adjust the wavelength so that, only the target compound, if it is present, will absorb the light. The energy causes the gas to heat up and expand. The pressure change is detected by a microphone--hence, the classification as photoacoustic. The company claims it can detect concentrations in the single digits per million.

As an option, users can add another sensor, such as an electrochemical or catalytic bead device, to simultaneously monitor oxygen, carbon monoxide, or combustible gas.

While similar technologies are employed in a few other contexts, MSA's device is targeted to its particular industries, Roczko said. The device has been widely used in refrigerant monitoring, he said, and also by several companies in the paint and plastics industries.

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Author:Baumgartner, Henry
Publication:Mechanical Engineering-CIME
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Feb 1, 2002
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