The early detection of leaks of pollutants, hazardous or explosive substances is urgently needed nowadays. The recent tragic events in Beirut sadly remind us that one can never lower one's guard when dealing with the production and handling of dangerous or polluting substances.
The latest innovation in this field is the result of a strong synergy between the University of Catania and the innovative start-up MCX Solutions S.r.l.s. with the support of the engineering services company Tekne S.r.l., both based in the Syracuse area but operating, onshore and offshore, at international level.
"We have developed a new system for the detection of chemical substances that is based on the use of drones for their rapid detection" says Prof. Tuccitto, chemist physicist of the University of Catania "the drone is a suitable means to move, quickly and accurately, for the mapping of large areas. For this reason we decided to install a series of sensors on the drone, creating a small, but effective, flying chemical laboratory". The innovative start-up MCX Solutions S.r.l.s. has provided all the necessary skills to realize the ambitious project. "Our engineers have adapted a drone, normally operating for visible and thermal infrared detection, realizing with 3D printers the necessary modifications to house the necessary instrumentation for the analysis" says Engineer Menta of MCX Solutions S.r.l.s. Tekne s.r.l., in addition to funding the project, has put its many years of experience in the field of aerial monitoring by drones allowing researchers to verify the functionality of the system in open field as well as on a laboratory scale.
The results have just been published in the international scientific journal Chemosensors and are available to the scientific community for further development and implementation in other areas. "The challenge," continues Prof. Tuccitto, "is to miniaturize the sensors that analyze the emitted gases so as to increase the ability of the drone to analyze different substances. The research group of the Department of Chemical Sciences of Catania has, in fact, in place other projects that involve the use of this innovative technology both in the environmental field for the mapping of pollutants and in agriculture for the preventive detection on a large scale of diseases that infest the typical crops of the territory of Syracuse as the "malsecco" of lemons or the "tristezza" of oranges.