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Sensors to identify contaminants in cockpit air

Synkera Technologies

Gas sensors

Synkera Technologies has been awarded a Phase I SBIR contract from the US Air Force for development of advanced sensors to identify and quantify contaminants in cockpit air

This Phase I project will focus on the development of a suite of sensors for detection of cockpit air pollutants including fuel vapour, hydraulic fluid, heat exchanger fluid, carbon monoxide, particle debris and smoke.

The sensors will be based upon advances by Synkera in nanotechnology and ceramic micromachining, and will feature a combination of technologies including catalytic combustible and chemiresistive measurements.

Synkera's unique, nanoporous, micromachined sensing platform offers advantages in cost, size, power consumption and overall sensor performance including reliability, sensitivity and selectivity.

These sensors, together with commercial off the shelf components (Cots) where applicable, will be capable of detecting, identifying and quantifying the potential cockpit pollutants listed above.

The proposed sensor system will provide a comprehensive assessment of aircraft systems, including potential health threats to pilots and an early warning of system performance degradation, by monitoring the environmental control system to ensure that cabin pressurised air is free of pollutants.

Synkera expects that sensors developed under this research project could be expanded into an instrumentation package utilised by both commercial and private aircraft.

The instrument could be adapted in the future for detecting hazardous gasses to warn of potential terrorist threats as well, although that is not being considered in this initial work.

The sensors are expected to also have applications in industrial health and safety and other markets.

Synkera's product manager for sensors, Debra Deininger, says "This project will provide Synkera with an outstanding opportunity to expand our gas sensors product line with the addition of highly reliable and very low power sensors for detection of carbon monoxide, combustible gases as well as other targets that our customers have been asking for".

Work will begin almost immediately and will progress through 2006 on Phase I.

Synkera expects to apply for a Phase II funding at the completion of Phase I in order to secure funding to develop working prototypes.

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Analysis & Quality Control