Development partnership

Avacta has entered into a product development partnership to develop a hydrogen sulphide (H2S) sensor for industrial safety applications.

Avacta Group, a York-based developer of detection and analysis technology, has entered into a partnership for the development of a new hydrogen sulphide (H2S) sensor for industrial safety applications.

Avacta said in a statement that its partner (the name of which cannot be given for reasons of commercial sensitivity) is an established manufacturer and distributor of inter alia, toxic gas detection equipment throughout the world.

Avacta’s trace gas detection exploits its cavity enhanced absorption spectroscopy (CEAS) technology and provides significant improvements over existing ‘industry standard’ detection technologies such as electrochemical sensors.

H2S is a colourless toxic gas and may be found wherever a mixture of hydrocarbons and sulphur occurs, which happens most commonly within petrochemical processing environments. Despite being associated with the odour of rotten eggs, H2S quickly deadens the sense of smell, so potential victims may not be aware of its presence until too late.

While electrochemical sensors can adequately detect H2S at the regulated exposure limit of 5ppm they have inherent limitations such as limited lifetimes, slow response and recovery times, plus the possibility for them to ‘sleep’ and also be poisoned by contaminating gases. Furthermore, electrochemical sensor failures are undetectable as they continue to give an ‘all OK’ reading when they cease to operate, even in the presence of the target gas.

Under the terms of the agreement, Avacta has entered into a product development partnership aimed at providing the market with a CEAS-based H2S detection solution which overcomes the limitations of electrochemical sensors. It will also provide increased economic benefit to companies through the opportunity to significantly reduce maintenance costs.

Avacta will receive a royalty-based licence payment on product sales, which Avacta and its partner believe has the potential to be several hundred units per annum.

Alastair Smith, chief executive of Avacta, said: ‘We are very pleased to be working closely with one of the market leaders on the application of our CEAS technology for an H2S detection solution. Our partner is ideal to co-develop and commercialise this product and other products based on our CEAS technology. Industrial gas sensing products will provide near-term revenues to underpin the continued development of our gas sensing technology towards valuable clinical applications.’