At the Nagpur-based National Environmental Engineering Research Institute (NEERI) and the Kolkata-based Centre for Development of Advanced Computing (C-DAC), scientists have jointly developed an electronic device named 'e-Nose' to sniff volatile organic compounds and gaseous emissions from industries and environmental monitoring at other sensitive locations.
The system with an array of sensors and an intelligent software, identifies and warns about the presence of odorous molecules on the mill premises.. Pulp and paper industry emits a variety of gases like hydrogen sulphide, methyl mercaptan, dimethyl sulphide and dimethyl disulphide, which could be fatal beyond a certain concentration.
"The device can be used in all the industries, which generates these gases. In the future, we can modify and sniff other gas emissions also," Dr. Sharvari Deshmukh, a scientist with NEERI told the Indian Science Journal
. "The foundation has been laid. It now requires only some minor changes to apply for other industries," Dr. Deshmukh added.
The electronic Nose monitors these gases with ease. Available analytical instruments in the market are expensive and time consuming, and above all, not for specific applications for industry. Currently, the Mysore Paper Mills in Karnataka and Tamil Nadu Paper Mill have installed this device on an experimental basis. The sensors used in e-Nose function on the principle similar to that of human olfaction.
It generates a pattern based on the type of aroma. The patterns are trained to help interpret and distinguish various odors and odorants and to recognize new patterns using advanced mathematical techniques. The researchers are currently working on an application to monitor gas emissions from industries like distillery, tannery, pharmaceutical industry or leakage of petroleum pipes.
Dr. Deshmukh said, "Based on demand, we will expand the scope of the application." "This will be a suitable tool for environmental regulators to monitor pollution due to emissions of obnoxious gases from industries, urban solid waste dumps," added Dr. Nabarun Bhattacharya of the C-DAC, who collaborated in the development of instrument and software for E-Nose.
The NEERI will transfer the technology for commercial exploitation, once the application for patent is approved by the year end. Besides Dr. Deshmukh, the scientists involved in the development of the application are Dr. R.A. Pandey of NEERI and Dr. Bhattacharya of C-DAC, Kolkata.