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University-Industry Engagement Advisor

U of Michigan develops device that monitors harmful airborne chemicals in real-time

By Jesse Schwartz
Published: November 14th, 2018

A University of Michigan (U-M) start-up is advancing a device that monitors airborne toxic compounds in industrial settings.

Omniscent’s technology features a miniaturized gas chromatograph that can identify and measure levels of these pollutants in real time, helping companies better protect their workers and the environment around factories.

The Environmental Protection Agency now requires factories to monitor of harmful chemicals such as benzene, a carcinogenic compound found in gasoline and vehicle exhaust, but companies haven’t had an affordable, effective way to monitor them in real time.

“The conventional solution is to sample air for weeks at a time and manually send the samples to a lab for testing,” says Yogesh Gianchandani, professor at U-M and CTO and co-founder of Omniscent. That process is costly, “and other conventional approaches that offer real-time analysis are even more expensive, so companies can’t test as frequently or in a way that’s widespread,” he adds. “The Omniscent system is the first modestly priced system that performs the analysis on-location and feeds the data immediately to the cloud. That’s truly transformative.”

Early adopters in Michigan and California are currently testing the device.

Sassan Teymouri, U-M alumnus and CEO of Omniscent, comments, “Our autonomous system not only saves a company time and money, it offers continuous monitoring of air quality to ensure the safety of workers and the general public.”

Gianchandani also believes the technology could have several additional applications outside of factories. “There are citizen groups, city administrators and health care professionals, for example, who will want to use this,” he says.

Source: Michigan News

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