Detoxing the air

1 min read

A new European project is set to improve security for travellers using European airports and other large public spaces.

The project will develop sensors capable of detecting a wide range of toxic agents which could be used in chemical, biological or terrorist attack. The system will provide early warning of the presence of explosive materials and, in the case of airborne toxins, will be able to extract and decontaminate the air supply. The system will be designed for use at airports and other public spaces.

The project is based on nano-scale biosensor technology recently developed at Bangor University. The technology is capable of detecting the presence of explosives by detecting minuscule airborne particles given off by the explosive materials. (To levels of parts per trillion in air).

Bangor University is the only UK university involved in the 26 partner consortium that won the European funding to develop the project, along with 4 UK businesses (3 Wales-based). The original concept was developed by Professor Maher Kalaji and the electrochemistry and sensors group at the University's School of Chemistry, who have proved and patented the concept of a nanoscaled biosensor using genetically modified enzymes.

'We can produce a system which constantly monitors the air for a wide range of materials. The basic concept exists; with the partners we will extend the capability to detect more materials and detoxify the air. The system will provide managers of public spaces with early detection of explosive or other agents within the space and with a means to remedy any airborne toxins. This is made possible by our initial development and the wide breadth of experience within the consortium developing the system. Bangor's expertise is in developing the material in the device that will detect and detoxify a wider range of toxic agents, while other consortium members will test and validate our further development,' Professor Kalaji explained.

The € 8.9 million European Sixth Framework project will be delivered over 4 years. € 315,000 (approximately £212,000) comes to Bangor's School of Chemistry, where two new research posts will support the work of the development team.

Bangor University's School of Chemistry are key partners in the project in the explosives detection technology, having successfully achieved proof of concept in their patented technology thanks to a Patent and Proof of Concept Grant issued by the Welsh Assembly Government and part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund.