Sniffing out pollution with a £2M award

3D map of methane emission from water treatment plant
3D map of methane emission from water treatment plant

Lancaster physicists have been awarded £2M to develop multi-gas sensing technology for the detection of industrial pollution.

The project entitled ‘SNIFFIRDRONE’ will exploit the latest advances in infrared optoelectronics and nanotechnology to develop a drone mounted high performance multi-gas NDIR sensing unit for the measurement of hydrogen sulphide, methane, carbon dioxide and sulphur dioxide.

Coupled with high speed measurement and imaging techniques, the prototype device will enable the creation of high-density 3D maps of pollution and odours in real time, alerting plant operators to emission incidents as they occur and allowing for corrective action to avoid nuisance and pollution episodes over neighbouring populations.

Dr Qiandong Zhuang, Reader in Semiconductor Quantum Materials & Devices at Lancaster University’s Department of Physics, said: “It is thought that the application of advanced quantum materials and nanotechnology to the sensing technology will enable detection speeds and sensitivities beyond anything currently commercially available.”

Lancaster is part of a consortium including the University of Barcelona, the Institute of Bioengineering of Catalonia (IBEC), SINTEF Digital, and private sector partners Gas Sensing Solutions (GSS) and Depuración de Aguas del Mediterráneo (DAM).

The project, awarded under the European ATTRACT2 funding programme, is designed to identify breakthrough technologies from fundamental research that will benefit both science and society and will support the SNIFFIRDRONE project for 26 months from May 2022.

Further information can be found at or by contacting Qiandong Zhuang or Mike Entwistle at Lancaster University.

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