Development of sensors that avoid carbon monoxide, natural gas or bottled gas poisoning
RUVID/DICYT The Theoretical and Computational Chemistry Group of the Universitat Jaume I, led by the professor of Physical Chemistry Juan Andrés Bort, has participated in an international research project for the development of electronic sensors that prevent carbon monoxide, naturalgas and bottled gas poisoning. The work has served as a basis for a bill in Argentina to establish the obligatory nature of installing toxic and explosive gas sensors that have a gas cutting mechanism in public spaces.
The researchers responsible for this project participated in the presentation made in the Chamber of Deputies of Argentina by the deputy Eduardo Bucca, at the end of September. The participants were Miguel Ponce, researcher of the National Council of Scientific and Technical Research (CONICET) of Argentina; Elson Longo, from the Functional Materials Development Centre (CDMF) of the Federal University of São Carlos (UFSCar); Juan Andrés Bort, from the Universitat Jaume I, as well as the director of the Research Institute in Materials Science and Technology Mar de Plata (INTEMA), Guillermo Elicabe.
Currently, there are more than 250 deaths caused by gas and 2,000 poisonings per year in Argentina. In Spain, the figures are lower butstill quite high, with a hundred deaths per year. After five years of research, the research team has developed prototypes of sensors capable of detecting gas concentrations above the risk level and cutting off the gas supply of the affected space. The system is in the process of an international patent and it is divided into two interconnected parts.
The first part consists of sensors that detect the presence of carbon monoxide (CO) and other dangerous gases (such as natural gas and bottled gas) integrated in transmitters. On the other hand, a receiver system consisting of a solenoid valve located inside the gas inlet pipe to the house will be installed. If a gas concentration higher than the safety limit is detected, the transmission systems will emit an audible signal and send a signal to the receiver system, which would interrupt the gas supply.
The sending of the signals between the transmitters and the proposed receiver would be carried out through cables of the electric network, since other current technologies, such as Wi-Fi or Bluetooth, are not effective over long distances and could be affected by environment where they are installed. In addition, the use of this network for its power and communication would avoid the need for additional cable installations. Any system connected to the electrical network of the house could serve as a signal to detect toxic gases and explosives.
It is important to note that this security technology does not interfere with existing household elements. In addition, if gas was detected, not only the combustion sector of the equipment using gas would be protected, but the entire system, including gas leaks in the pipes of the household network that are linked to household appliances, showers and central heating equipment. In this way, possible poisonings could be avoided due to the inhalation of CO generated in incomplete combustions, losses of natural gas or bottled gas and explosions or fires.
This project has been carried out thanks to the international collaboration between several research groups, which have started from basic research to finally reach an application. The group of Theoretical and Computational Chemistry of the UJI, led by Juan Andrés Bort, together with the group of Professor Elson Longo, have worked on the development of nanoparticle materials, especially cerium oxide materials with high selectivity and optimal response to carbon monoxide and other types of gases. On the other hand, in Argentina they have studied the electrical behaviour of these materials treated with gas.
The project has also had the collaboration of Alexandre Simões, professor at the São Paulo State University (Unesp), and Cesare Malagú, professor at the University of Ferrara, in Italy. It is funded by the State Research Agency of São Paulo (FAPESP), the National Council of Scientific and Technological Development of Brazil (CNPq), the National Council of Scientific and Technical Research of Argentina (Argentina), the Spanish Ministry of Science, Research and Universities and the National Institute of Nuclear Physics of Italy (INFN).