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Aarhus Develops New Method to Measure Odour

by 5m Editor
22 July 2011, at 11:34am

DENMARK - Aarhus University researchers have developed a new method to measure odour in pig houses.

At the present, it is difficult to document odour reduction satisfactorily using various environmental technologies. A new model will hopefully change that so that neighbours to pig farm can stop holding their noses and businesses can sell documented knowledge and tools to reduce odour.

Does the air smell or not? That question has until now been very difficult to answer. Scientists from Aarhus University will, in collaboration with Infarm A/S, Skov A/S and the Pig Research Centre under the Danish Agriculture and Food Council, now try and get a handle on the problem by developing a model that can measure actual odour reduction from various environmental technologies, such as slurry treatment and air cleaning.

Until now, when scientists and businesses have developed technology to cleanse odour from the air from farms, it has not been possible to document the reduction in odour properly. Further development of technology that can reduce air odour will stagnate if improvements cannot be documented satisfactorily.

At the present, odour is measured using air analyses in which the human nose plays a large role. This method is insufficient because many compounds disappear during transportation from the pig barn to the laboratory and the method itself is very inaccurate. With the new chemical model odour will be calculated according to chemical measurements on location.

Development of PTR-MS (Proton Transfer Reaction Mass Spectrometry) has made this possible. From now on, it will be easier to document new air cleansing methods and, not least, to develop new methods based on removing the smelliest compounds.

Head of research unit, Anders Peter Adamsen, from the Department of Engineering at Aarhus University is extremely pleased about the grant.

He said: "We can now complete the work on developing a new method for measuring odour that we started years ago. We have gathered an excellent team of scientists that are experts in the area. The methods and technology that have been developed can also be used in areas other than pig odour."

The model for documenting odour reduction is part of a project that will start in September this year and is expected to be complete by the summer of 2014. The project is supported by funds from Grønt udviklings- og demonstrationsprogram (GUDP; Green Development and Demonstration Programme) under the Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Fisheries. One of the aims of GUDP is to support projects that contribute to more environmentally friendly food production.