A new, microchip sensor for the residual life indication (RLI) of generic filtration systems to deliver continuous remote monitoring of air, water, fuel, oil and other filters
The Italian SME company, founded and headquartered near Rome, Italy, is composed of a multidisciplinary team of engineers dedicated to pioneering the next generation of microchip sensors for improved molecular recognition. For the past 5 years, the company has been developing its microchip platform to be the foundation for numerous sensor applications. The platform combines heterogeneous nano-sensors with conditioning and pre-processing of mixed analog and digital signal into a single, smart microchip.
The chip analytical tools include a lock-in amplifier with wideband Electrical Impedance Spectroscopy (EIS). EIS is a versatile tool that allows accurate measurement of Impedance in the Frequency Domain, thus deriving L, C, R components that model the behavior of virtually any type of electrochemical sensor, material or phenomenon. Lock-In amplification techniques enable recovery of tiny signal levels buried in noise 10-100x greater than the signal itself.
Filters, used universally to reduce man-made environmental pollution, still do not have an effective system to indicate their saturation or residual life. Today filters rely on periodic maintenance procedures that are too often not respected. A commercial chemical sensor exists (such as that of 3M) that requires visual inspection, detects a very limited range of substances and can only be used with small carbon filters in air. Ventilation systems, water and various other fluids (oil, gasoline, etc) based on carbon filters, HEPA (High Efficiency Particulate Air), ULPA (Ultra Low Penetration Air), and others regardless of their construction, can take advantage of the new sensor from this SME.
The EIS tool makes it possible to send programmable sine waves to stimulate the filter’s material and then receive, amplify, demodulate and process its response. This data is then processed to determine how much has been saturated, how much remains and when to trigger regeneration or in other cases, filter replacement. Measurements are performed at the time of manufacture, when the filter seal is opened, and continuously during operation. The chip delivers information on filter saturation level by measuring conductivity and admittivity of the chemical adsorbed by the filter and by factoring in environmental interference (temperature and humidity).
For the first time, a precision, desktop-size laboratory instrument costing over €10K has been implemented into a single, miniature microchip that is 3x3mm in size, consuming only 1.5mW of power and costing in the low €10s.
The company is willing to cooperate under a commercial agreement with technical assistance or a joint venture agreement with innovative SMEs that design and produce air and liquid filtration systems.
Advantages and innovations:
Filters, used universally to reduce man-made environmental pollution, still do not have an effective system to indicate their saturation or residual life. The advantages and innovation of the company’s new microelectronics platform are its combination of heterogeneous nano sensors with conditioning and pre-processing of mixed analog and digital signal into a single, smart microchip. By providing an electrical rather than a chemical measurement, RLI is made more precise and practical as it requires no visual inspection and can be monitored remotely. Electronic RLI indication is ideally suited for use in filter regeneration systems. By integrating a microchip sensor (3x3mm) that requires very low power consumption (1.5mW), one will know, at all times, if a filter is safe to use - the first real-time residual life indicator.
Type of partner sought: innovative SMEs that design and produce air and liquid filtration systems for application in industry, automotive, irrigation, medical, home, civil, military, space and aerospace markets.
Role of the partner: integrate and test the RLI microchip sensor in their products to meet the client’s needs and develop the next generation of filters with continuously and remotely sensed residual life indication.