Ammonia gas sensor module for use in stock farming facilities

For Bavaria, the agricultural sector has a significant economic importance with a turnover of around 121 billion euros per year. However, conflicts with the economic goals of farmers and the sustainable goals of environmental and animal protection initiatives occur from time to time due to the different interests involved. Especially the emission of ammonia gases leads to social discussions. Researchers at Fraunhofer EMFT are developing a more efficient measurement method for detecting ammonia gases in agriculture. The aim is to contribute to more environmentally friendly and animal-friendly agriculture.

© Fraunhofer EMFT/ Bernd Müller
Highly integrated gas sensor module with micropump

Constant monitoring of emissions could help to rationalize the debate. However, the measuring systems available on the market to date are either inexpensive or purely passive: as a rule, they are measuring boxes with a sensor that are distributed around the plant and evaluated at regular intervals. For higher-quality, active alternatives, farmers would have to invest in very expensive, optical measuring systems.

Researchers at Fraunhofer EMFT together with the Bavarian start-up EC Sense, the TU Gdansk and the Polish KmU issrfid are working on a solution in the i-MAGS project for inexpensive, active, decentralized, instantaneous measurement of ammonia gases harmful to the environment and animals in livestock facilities using a miniaturized ammonia gas sensor module.

To significantly improve the sensor's response time, a micropump was integrated into the ammonia gas sensor module, which actively feeds air from the environment to the sensor. This combination allows absolute gas concentrations in the ppb range to be measured very cost-effectively within a few seconds. The sensor module with integrated micropump was already developed by Fraunhofer EMFT and EC Sense in the previous MIAGS project. In the current project, the Polish cooperation partners are now working on integrating these sensor modules into an IOT network for monitoring ammonia concentrations in large pig houses.

The project is funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF; Contract No. 01DS22002A) and the National Center for Research and Development (NCBR; Contract No. WPN/4/66/i-MAGS/2022) under the 4th Polish-German Call for Proposals in the field of Digital Green Technology.

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Research area: Sensors and Actuators for Smart Farming