10 March 2016
University of Copenhagen spinout opens advanced air laboratory
Causing seven million deaths every year, air pollution is the greatest single bringer of untimely demise. Danish air quality company “Infuser” produces advanced air pollution control solutions based on a University of Copenhagen patent. In order to deliver the best possible research-based clean air solutions, the company is now inaugurating what promises to be Europe’s, and possibly the world's, most advanced laboratories for the analysis of air quality: Infuser Cleanlabs.
Proximity to university researchers vital to business
The laboratory will be housed in Copenhagen’s Universitetsparken, where the UCPH Department of Chemistry is also located. This means that Infuser will be able to maintain close ties with the atmospheric chemists of the department. Not least the students, who are invited to conduct research projects for their Bachelor projects or Masters theses. And eventually to apply for jobs in the company.
Unique solutions from impressive collection of devices
In the 400 square meter lab, the company has amassed an impressive collection of analytical tools, such as their chemical ionization mass spectrometer capable of measuring polluting gasses at concentrations as low as one in a trillion without any kind of sample preparation. With their Fourrier transform infrared spectrometer, they are capable of carrying our direct measurements on the chemical composition of emissions from a red hot exhaust gas duct.
Sorting of particles reveals harmfulness of air pollution
In the lab, Infuser will also be able to sort particles by size, ranging from 2 ½ nanometers (approximately ten molecules) to 20 micrometers ( A mote of dust). They will do this using an advanced scanning mobility particle sizer in combination with an aerosol particle sizer. Knowing the size distribution in the air that needs cleaning is important for Infuser, because anything smaller than four micrometers could end up deep inside your lungs, when you inhale.
Size distribution is also essential because Infuser's pollution control units are based on the UCPH-patented GPAO method (Gas Phase Advanced Oxydation). Here polluting gasses, which are difficult to remove, are transformed into dust, which are easy to control. For this reason it is vital to insure, that no inhalable particles escape from the system.
Exceptional and complex
Finally, Infuser is about to tighten the last few nuts and bolts on an apparatus which will be the first of its kind in the world. An automatic sample preparation robot followed by a thermos desorber- gas chromatographer- mass spectrometer- flame ionization and thermic conductivity detector (TD-GC-MS-FID-TCD). This device is so novel that the technicians building the thing are travelling in from around the world to see it all assembled. With it, the Infuser technicians will be able to quantify the pollution profile on any type of air pollution. Even containing compounds they have never come across before.
University chemists boost development of company
CEO of Infuser, Lars Nannerup, is thrilled at the opportunity to open his laboratory in such close proximity to the atmospheric chemists at University of Copenhagen.
"The product as well as the company is still very much in the development phase, so we are deeply reliant on a continued collaboration with the university where the idea was first fostered,” says Nannerup and continues:
"The product as well as the company is still very much in the development phase, so we are deeply reliant on a continued collaboration with the university where the idea was first fostered. We develop all our technology in collaboration with researchers at University of Copenhagen!
“We develop all our technology in collaboration with researchers at University of Copenhagen. Since setting up two and a half years ago, we have hired 25 employees. Most of our staff are trained engineers or chemists and within the next year or so we expect to hire another 10 chemistry graduates and engineers for our R&D department. Every new case, every new pollution problem, represents a new challenge and every installation needs adaptation, so it can remove the particular cocktail of gasses coming out of the individual production process”, says Lars Nannerup.
Job creation through fundamental research
It is rare for a start-up company to be making money but with Infuser, Nannerup is doing just that. Since its inception in 2012, Infuser has provided clean and breathable air for a waste water treatment plant in Aarhus, Denmark, a crisps producer in Sweden and an animal feed producer in the Danish town of Jelling faced with the threat of closure by local environmental authorities. This has assured the company its first profitable quarter as soon as 2016, says Nannerup.
“We have succeeded in transforming fundamental research into jobs and taxable revenue for Denmark”, concludes Nannerup.