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UC’s Super Nose crosses the Tasman

8 April 2005

UC’s Super Nose crosses the Tasman

Australia's major seaports will soon have the most advanced container toxicity screening in the world thanks to award winning technology developed by University of Canterbury researchers.

Christchurch-based company, Syft Technologies, has commercialised the Selective Ion Flow Tube (SIFT) mass spectrometry technology for the global marketplace.

A significant export order from Australian Customs Services, worth in excess of $2 million, will see Syft Technologies’ instrument (the Voice100) installed at the ports of Sydney, Brisbane, Adelaide, Melbourne and Perth. The original instrument was built at Canterbury University to analyse gases formed in Space, measuring the concentration of volatile organic compounds and producing a fingerprint profile of their compounds. But relatively recently it was discovered that the SIFT process can be used to identify the types of volatiles present in a sample, as well as their concentration, throwing open a range of uses for the emerging technology. Australian Customs Services will use the technology to analyse and measure fumigant levels within sea containers arriving into Australia.

Syft's Voice100 instrument uses a patented technique involving SIFT-MS (selected ion flow mass-spectrometry) which can instantly and safely detect and analyse volatile organic compounds.

Geoff Peck, Syft’s Chief Operating Officer, says once an air sample is captured in a tedlar bag it is attached to an inlet on the Voice100.

“At the push of a button, operators can analyse and determine which fumigant or combination of fumigants were used in the container.

"Each chemical has its own target safety level and the user friendly screen interface of the Voice100 can immediately show the operator the concentration of fumigant and whether the container is safe to enter or not. All this happens in seconds with measurements down to low parts per billion."


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