New Environmental Monitoring System To Reduce Costs And Improve Efficiency

A team of researchers that includes Georgia Institute of Technology engineers has developed a revolutionary environmental monitoring and analysis system that promises to reduce the time and costs involved in analyzing contaminants.

Researchers predict the system — called E-SMART (Environmental Systems Management, Analysis and Reporting neTwork) — will dramatically improve the efficiency and effectiveness of environmental monitoring. The system — consisting of data management hardware and software and integrated optic chemical sensors — operates in real time and measures very small amounts of contaminants. In addition, researchers said it will reduce health and safety risks and help ensure environmental compliance.

"Right now the only way technicians have for field analysis is to go out and take samples, bring them back to the laboratory and perform wet chemistry tests," said Nile Hartman, a principal research engineer at the Georgia Tech Research Institute (GTRI). "It's expensive — about $200 a sample plus the technician's time. So instead we have developed a sensor that operates in situ (at the site of contamination) and continuously monitors the site. So you have huge savings in time and cost."

At the heart of the project are smart sensors that detect a variety of chemical contaminants, including heavy metals, solvents, and petroleum oil and lubricants. The integrated optic interferometric sensors were developed over the past decade and patented in 1997 by Hartman and the Georgia Tech Research Corporation.

The sensor was licensed commercially by the Atlanta-based Photonic Sensor Systems Inc., a recent graduate of Georgia Tech's Advanced Technology Development Center, a business incubator for high-tech companies. Photonic Sensor Systems is also a member of the Department of Defense (DOD) funded E-SMART research team, and GTRI is its subcontractor for the project. Other members of the E-SMART team are General Atomics

Contact: Jane Sanders
Georgia Institute of Technology Research News

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