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An “electronic nose” as a potential device for fire detection of forest product fire loads in enclosures

Joseph, Paul, Bakirtzis, Dimitri, Vieille, Audrey
Wood material science and engineering 2015 v.10 no.1 pp. 130-144
Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy, cardboard, cellulose, cellulosic materials, detectors, differential scanning calorimetry, disasters, electronic nose, engineering, fire detection, fires, forests, odors, oxides, pyrolysis, semiconductors, thermogravimetry, wood
Saving lives and properties are of primary importance in fire disasters. Unfortunately, current fire detectors are not fast enough to allow the detection of many fires, especially, at the smouldering stages. Some preliminary studies on laevoglucosan (LG), as an important product from cellulose degradation, have shown interesting properties and could be detected by devices classified as “electronic noses” (e-noses). In the present work, the mechanisms of pyrolysis of some ligno-cellulosic materials were investigated using thermo-gravimetric analysis, differential scanning calorimetry, Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy and by a tube furnace with a view to determining the major degradation products from wood, white paper and cardboard samples. Additionally, an odour sensor, made of tin oxide semiconductor thin film, was employed to evaluate its sensitivity in detecting LG. It was found that LG can be readily found among the thermal degradation products of cellulosic materials in question, and that the metal oxide sensor employed was sufficiently sensitive in detecting its presence. Therefore, the work opens up the potential of using such a sensor as an “e-nose” for the early detection of fires stemming from forest product fire loads in storage places and in other enclosures.