Photo Credit: UBC Okanagan
Having a good sense of smell can help protect us from danger. Unfortunately though, humans don’t always have an efficient response to odors. However, a group of researchers aim to change that: They’ve created an “artificial nose” device that can quickly detect ammonia, gas, and sewage.
“Our nose affects the quality of our lives significantly and helps with the detection of toxic gases in the environment, fire awareness, spoiled food, or triggering memories,” UBC Okanagan professor Mina Hoorfar said in the press release. “With this in mind, there has always been interest in developing devices that can mimic human olfaction systems.”
The gas detector, which was built in UBC Okanagan’s Advanced Thermo-Fluidic Lab, has 3D-printed parts that create a metal oxide semiconductor and a microchannel. All together, this system can be connected to a sampling chamber or used in a lab setting to sense odors.
Following testing, the team concluded that the coatings played an important role in odor detection. Because the coatings responded differently with different gases, this gave users the ability to adjust coatings based on the gas they would like to detect.
“This has the potential of changing the way municipalities and utilities conduct their monitoring,” Hoorfar said in the press release. “Based on the initial reaction of our municipal partners, we are excited to see what lies ahead.”