ECOTECH - Production durable et technologies de l'environnement

Network of formaldehyde SEnsors designed for Monitoring of INdoor AIR environments – CAPFEIN





Submission summary

In France, formaldehyde is classified as a "high priority" indoor air pollutant. French emerging regulation (Action 7 of national plan of health and environment) aims to measure this major pollutant impacting on health in public places (schools, nurseries, etc.) by 2015. Currently, no commercial tool designed for monitoring hourly formaldehyde concentrations is available to meet precision measurements, low cost and "large scale" needs.

The project goal is to achieve scientific and technical advances considered necessary for obtaining a "smart formaldehyde sensor", which will combine precision, selectivity to formaldehyde, time resolution, processing and communicating information in a very small size single device. The miniaturization and the networking abilities make up a real technological innovation.

Our research program CAPFEIN will be initiated on the basis of current formaldehyde analyzer working on combination of 3 steps, i.e. the uptake of gaseous formaldehyde gas into an aqueous solution, its derivation and its selective detection by fluorimetry. This analyzer has been developed in the coordinator lab and automated during the program PRIMEQUAL (ADEME & Ministry of Environment).

Proof of concept has been made and patented. Note that a Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) has been submitted. Three prototypes of formaldehyde analyzers are now operational. Our very challenging project aims to miniaturize the analyzer to make it communicate and more autonomous. In order to achieve this objective, the project coordinator, S. Le Calvé, involved since 2006 in the metrology of formaldehyde in indoor air, is surrounded and supported by a group of experts to remove the technological identified barriers. Thus, the four interdisciplinary partners, (atmospheric chemistry, organic chemistry, microfluidics, sensor networks) having reached a level of excellence are complementary.

The coordinator lab in close collaboration with the microfluidics lab will perform the miniaturization steps, corresponding to formaldehyde uptake, its reaction and its detection by either absorbance or fluorescence. The coordinator lab will be responsible for validation of formaldehyde sensor alone or networked.
The lab of organic chemistry will develop new reagents that lead to a more fluorescent and/or absorbent derivative after reaction with formaldehyde, matching with formaldehyde analyzer miniaturization, following three tracks based on their past patented performances.

The fourth partner, specialized in information and communication technology, will provide for its expertise in the field of digital communications networks, including wireless communication technologies and surveillance systems for distributed sensor networks. Communication protocols will be developed to transmit the identified measurements (such as concentrations of pollutant) to a central data processing. Thus, it becomes possible to alert occupants in real time, and/or to couple alert (peak pollution) to home automation (ventilation, etc.). This is consistent with the advent of new types of construction as low-energy buildings.

By preparing now to meet a need of fast and communicative accurate indoor air sensors, our project offers great prospects for recovery in French, European and Worldwide. This will be realized through the creation of a society in 2012 (currently in "incubation"). Its main job will consist of manufacturing and selling tools for metrology of indoor air pollutants. The first units of formaldehyde analyzers will be produced directly from optimization of the existing analyzers while the program Ecotech, through the development of "smart formaldehyde sensors", will permit to revolutionize the existing indoor air metrology.

Project coordination


The author of this summary is the project coordinator, who is responsible for the content of this summary. The ANR declines any responsibility as for its contents.



Help of the ANR 567,316 euros
Beginning and duration of the scientific project: February 2012 - 42 Months

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