The lower the percentage of pollutants in discharge emissions and exhaust gases, the more sensitive measuring instruments are required. Researchers at the Department of Physics and the company Siemens are cooperating on the development of laser-based measuring instruments. The goal is that they will have the highest sensitivity and reliability possible.
Waste incineration plants, steel industries, chemical industries, cement works and motor laboratories where catalytic converters are developed – these are some examples of places where it is necessary to be able to measure the concentration of different gases. – It is expensive to develop new products and we cannot develop new instruments if we do not know for certain that the underlying principles work, says Stefan Lundqvist, system developer at Siemens and Adjunct Professor at the Department of Physics. This is why keeping up with the latest research, as we do in our collaboration with the Department of Physics, is a necessity if the company is to be the first to launch new technologies.
The laser-based methods have many advantages: firstly, their speed, and the possibility to make on-site measurements and the fact they, as a rule, do not require maintenance. The measurements are made by sending a laser beam through the process which only takes a few seconds. This is a big difference from the so-called extractive systems where the gas is sucked up into a hose and subsequently analysed using infrared spectroscopy. – Nowadays, we know how we are supposed to make a sensitive laser-based instrument but there is a lot that can interfere with reliability, for example, how the lasers change over time. We want to study if it is possible to eliminate disturbances, Ove Axner, Professor of Physics, says.It is also a matter of finding the right type of lasers. An interesting aspect right now is to see if it is possible to use other types of lasers as measuring instruments, lasers which are currently used for completely different purposes.– We are also working on the development of new measuring strategies, Pawel Kluczynski, researcher at Siemens, says. At the same time as we measure the concentration, we also want to be able to measure the temperature of the gas. What Ove Axner classifies as basic research is something that is of interest for Siemens in the future. The cooperation has also meant that the three researchers have published articles together.
The experiments are conducted, in part, in the laboratory at Umeå University and, in part, at Siemens’ laboratory in Gothenburg where the international company has some 30 employees. The cooperation began in 2002 but it has now been intensified thanks to a grant from the Swedish Research Council. In addition, a doctoral student at Umeå University’s business research school is working on the project. – The more we work, the more we learn. Together we can do things we would not be capable of doing on our own, Stefan Lundqvist says.