The use of sensor arrays for environmental monitoring: interests and limitation

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Continuous, in situ monitoring of air, water and land quality is fundamental to most environmental applications. Low cost and non-invasive chemical sensor arrays provide a suitable technique for in situ monitoring. Their ability and performance under realistic conditions is discussed in this paper. Published studies report promising results despite a number of limitations that are associated with both the technology itself and its application in ever changing ambient conditions. Early investigations include the analysis of single substances as well as odour and wastewater organic load monitoring. Reported applications typically highlight the sensitivity of the currently available sensors to changes in temperature, humidity and flow rate. Two types of approaches are recommended to deal with these effects: either working under fixed experimental conditions or measuring the external parameters to numerically compensate for their change. The main challenge associated with the use of non-specific sensor arrays lies in establishing a relationship between the measured multivariate signals and the standards metrics that are traditionally used for quality assessment of gas mixtures. For instance, odour monitoring requires calibration against olfactometric measurements while investigations of wastewater samples still need to be correlated with organic pollution parameters such as BOD, COD or TOC. On the other hand, results obtained in the field have demonstrated how sensor arrays can be readily used as simple alarm devices or as early warning systems based on a general air/water quality index.
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Stuetz, Richard
Bourgeois, Wilfrid
Romain, Anne-Claude
Nicolas, Jacques
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Journal Article
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UNSW Faculty