Mitsubishi Electric develops highly sensitive odor detector to prevent water contamination

Feb. 7, 2002
Mitsubishi Electric has created an oil odor detector for water monitoring that can detect gasoline, kerosene, diesel oil and fuel oil contamination better than the human nose.


AMAGASKI, Japan, February 6, 2002 -- Addressing the needs of drinking water plant operators and river maintenance management, Mitsubishi Electric has created an oil odor detector for water monitoring that can detect gasoline, kerosene, diesel oil and fuel oil contamination better than the human nose.

Using a special sensing film made of hydrocarbon copolymers, which has a high affinity for the smell of oil, the sensor can alert maintenance management within ten minutes after contaminated water has been detected. The sensor also has a long lifetime-it can work for longer than half a year compared to previous ones that needed to be exchanged every three months.

The detector is also capable of discriminating between different oil types and displays them by analyzing desorption curves. Drinking water odor and taste is a major concern to water utility companies and the general public. One of the major odorants is oil, which may pollute water due to car accidents or illegal disposal. Oils such as gasoline and fuel oil have bad odors but there is currently no efficient method of removing them from water.

There is presently only one method to prevent oil from contaminating tap water-monitoring raw water with a human nose and removing oil by adding activated carbon.
Junji Hirotsuji, head researcher at Mitsubishi Electric's Advanced Technology R&D Center, explains, "The human nose can barely detect contaminated water because the odors are too weak and with present methods, different types of oil need to be detected by separate sensors. Our new oil odor sensor, composed of a quartz crystal and a special sensing film made of copolymers, has high affinities for odor molecules of different oil types such as gasoline, kerosene, diesel oil and fuel oil. So with our detector one can stop the entry of all oil-contaminated water into drinking plants at a low cost."

Mitsubishi Electric plans to commercialize its odor detector for the Japanese market on April 2002.

About Mitsubishi Electric Corporation
Mitsubishi Electric Corporation is involved in the manufacture, marketing and sales of electrical and electronic equipment used in information processing and communications, space development and satellite communications, consumer electronics, industrial technology, energy, transportation and construction.

The company has operations in 34 countries and recorded consolidated group sales of over US$33BN in the year ended March 31, 2001. Additional information on Mitsubishi Electric is available at www.mitsubishielectric.com.

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