BOWLING GREEN, Ky. (WBKO) – Western Kentucky University researchers have partnered with Adelphi Technology, a California-based company, to develop a portable electronic “sniffer” to accurately detect air pollution.
Both groups say the device has many uses, from agricultural technology to bomb detection.
The researchers say the idea started with the idea of virus detection, a method that scans a sealed container with high-energy particles to determine what’s inside the container without opening it. From this, the researchers said they asked the question, “Can we smell potential dangers and detect molecular signatures in the air?”
The current model of the device was made possible by a recent Kentucky Small Business Innovation Grant, which makes the device work in agriculture.
“Right now, we’ve got the attention of the USDA and NOAA on food safety, because they’re sniffing around, you know, when there’s contamination in food, maybe even farm control.” said Dr. Charles Gary, CEO of Adelphi Technology.
The technology behind the device is there, but it takes time, resources, and a full medical lab to get there. The researchers hope that by making the device portable, everyone can accurately measure the air quality around them and be informed about the damage.
In terms of agriculture, the researchers say that the current Kentucky project is part of a project in collaboration with NASA, which aims to grow new vegetables in space.
“Obviously the exploration of the moon and Mars is a big thing, but their main purpose is to provide astronauts with fresh fruits and vegetables in space, and in addition to that, to release oxygen into the atmosphere,” said one researcher on the mission. “They want to create an environment that is very close to our environment.”
The researchers say that before testing the chemical in space, they need to make sure that it does its intended job on Earth, helping to keep food safe.
“We’re also working with people who are working on meat processing, poultry processing facilities to test prototypes over two years and support the program, and I hope that in the end we will have a food safety product. ” said Gary.
Although the researchers say that the electronic sniffer has many applications that have not yet been discovered, they are approaching the commercial availability of the device, predicting that the first examples of food security could be ready by the end of 2023.
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