A sensor detects an odor

08.07.1997 00:00

Electronic nose detects odors

Beate Koch communication
Fraunhofer Society

Media Service 7 - 1997

Topic 1

Electronic nose recognizes

Odors So far, there has only been one method of differentiating and evaluating smells: a professional odor tester sticks his nose into the air mixture. But this work can also be automated in the future. A mini sensor recognizes different scents.

Electronic nose recognizes smells Enthusiastic hobby cooks know: a single rotten egg, a shot of sour milk or a sticky piece of butter can make the most delicious menu inedible. Therefore, before cooking, check carefully whether each ingredient is fresh. Careful control of all ingredients is also a top priority in food production. Samples have to be taken regularly and analyzed in a laboratory. But these test procedures are very complex and time-consuming. Often hours pass before the result is finally available. The miniaturized analysis device, Moragas, developed by the Fraunhofer Institute for Biomedical Engineering IBMT, works faster and easier. It can judge the type and quality of food based on smells. The device consists of several measuring probes, the sensors, which detect fragrances and convert them into electronic signals. "Odors consist of a large number of individual components," explains Dr. Patrick Keller from Fraunhofer IBMT. Through the targeted selection of sensors, it is possible to receive a specific signal pattern for every odor. Both the pleasant scent of fresh and the smell of sour milk then each produce a characteristic signal. With the help of the analyzer it is now possible to use the different signal patterns to reliably identify the different smells and also, for example, the degree of freshness of the milk. The analyzer can even recognize whether a beer has been freshly tapped or is already stale. "To do this, the measured sensor signals are compared with the values ​​stored in a database," explains the Fraunhofer scientist, explaining how the device works. In this way, conclusions can be drawn about the quality of the food being examined within a very short time. If the milk is spoiled, the device sounds the alarm and production can be stopped immediately. According to Keller, the analyzer can be used not only in food or cosmetics production, but also in security technology. "The sensors could, for example, be installed in cable ducts and detect cable burns there," he says, naming another possible field of application.

Your contact for further information: Dr. Patrick Keller Telephone 0 68 94/9 80-2 76, Fax 0 68 94/9 80-4 00, Fraunhofer Institute for Biomedical Technology IBMT Ensheimer Strasse 48, D-66386 St. Ingbert

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