Air / Environmental Health & Safety

Singapore Researchers Develop Technology That Identifies Airborne Hazards Instantly

By Chemical Processing Staff

Nov 03, 2019

Scientists at Nanyang Technological University, Singapore (NTU Singapore) develop a device that can identify a wide range of gases and airborne chemicals instantly. The new prototype device is portable and suitable for rapid deployment by agencies to identify airborne hazards, such as from tiny gas molecules like carbon monoxide to larger compound molecules like benzene, known to be harmful to human health. It can also provide real-time monitoring of air quality such as during haze outbreaks and assist in the detection of gas leaks and industrial air pollution.

Developed by a research team led by Associate Professor Ling Xing Yi at the School of Physical and Mathematical Sciences, the new technology was reported last month in science journal ACS Nano. Ling was a winner of the L’Oréal Singapore For Women In Science National Fellowship in 2015 for her fundamental research in using lasers to detect pollutants.

The new invention was sparked by an incident in Singapore two years ago when there were reports of a strong gas-like odor in the air over several parts of the island. The cause was only determined a few days later and was traced to volatile organic compounds released by factories outside of Singapore.

In experiments, the NTU team showed that the device can identify airborne molecules such as naphthalene and derivatives of benzene, a family of colorless industrial air pollutants known to be highly carcinogenic. It can also do continuous monitoring of the concentration of the different types of gases like oxygen and carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere, a useful safety application in many industrial settings.

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