An invention from a University spin-out company that monitors dangerous methane gas lingering underground could lead to greater development of brownfield sites.
The Gasclam is being developed by Salamander Ltd, which was founded by lecturer Dr Stephen Boult and spun-out of The University of Manchester in 1996.
Now the product has scooped the Innovation Technology prize in the Northwest Business Environment Awards 2007.
Measuring only 600mm long and 45mm wide, the Gasclam is designed to sit inside small boreholes on potential development sites and provide constant monitoring of harmful gases, such as methane, which can cause explosions.
The Gasclam improves upon existing assessment technology by allowing continuous collection of information about the movement and build-up of underground methane.
The system has the ability to transmit measurements using GPRS technology, allowing those doing the monitoring to collect an array of data without making repeated visits to the site.
Up until now, the available equipment has only allowed periodic measurements to be taken and Dr Boult says this approach could be restricting the development of brownfield sites.
For example, one-off periodic measurements may show a constant concentration of methane in a certain area, which may stop construction taking place
But through continuous monitoring the Gasclam may reveal the methane production is actually low and the gas protection measures needed are minimal meaning the site can be considered for development.
Salamander and The University of Manchester recently won 233,000 worth of funding from the DTIs Technology Programme, which is allowing them to develop the Gasclam to meet practical, customer and legislative requirements.
Project co-ordinator Dr Peter Morris is also working to develop a sound methodology for the Gasclams use, which will reduce uncertainty in the prediction of g
Contact: Alex Waddington
University of Manchester