OHIO STATE SCIENTISTS WIN THIRD INNOVATION AWARD
COLUMBUS , Ohio -- A pollution sensor invented at Ohio State University is among the top 100 innovations of 2006, according to R&D Magazine.
This is the third time that Prabir Dutta, chair of the Department of Chemistry, and his research team have earned a spot on the prestigious R&D 100 list, which salutes the best inventions to emerge from industry, government, and academia each year. Dutta designed the sensor, along with Sheikh Akbar, professor of materials science and engineering, and former graduate students Nicholas Szabo and Jiun Chan Yang.
The patented sensor detects the total amount of a pollutant commonly referred to as NOx, which is primarily a combination of nitrogen oxide and nitrogen dioxide. It also removes the interference from carbon monoxide, hydrocarbons and ammonia that can cause sensors to produce inaccurate readings. The tiny, matchtip-sized device could eventually lead to even smaller sensors that offer new ways of controlling combustion.
The Environmental Protection Agency wants to curb production of NOx, because it contributes to ground-level ozone, smog, and acid rain.
There are many gas sensors on the market -- and all new cars carry some form of sensor to comply with emissions standards -- but only this new sensor can detect specific gases among the complex mixtures that make up combustion exhaust. It detects these chemicals even in small amounts, and does so rapidly, making future NOx remediation strategies possible.
Rather than design a new sensor from scratch, the Ohio State scientists added an innovative filter to a typical electrochemical sensor. They made the filter out of a zeolite, one of a family of porous minerals that are used as water softeners and to create gasoline from crude oil.
Zeolites are often called cage-like solids or molecular sieves, Dutta explained, because the solid form has tiny container-like structures that can capture other chemicals or be the site for chemical reactions.
The chemistry happens inside those cages, he said.
Szabo is now a scientist at Conductive Technologies, Inc. of York, PA. Yang is a postdoctoral fellow at the Harvard Medical School. Sensor maker EmiSense, Inc., of Salt Lake City, has licensed the technology from the university and commercialized it under the name NOxTrac.
R&D Magazine will list all 100 winners in its September issue, and will hold an October awards banquet in Chicago.
For more information about the sensor, see http://researchnews.osu.edu/archive/nosensor.htm.
Contact: Prabir Dutta, (614) 292-4532; Dutta.firstname.lastname@example.org
Written by Pam Frost Gorder, (614) 292-9475; Gorder.email@example.com