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Tragbares duales GC-IMS mit Multielement-Sensorsystem zur schnellen und zuverlässigen Detektion von versteckten Personen und Waren

Throughout Europe human trafficking is on the increase, resulting in the current migrant and refugee crisis. People locked in trucks and shipping containers are taking risks with their lives. Mobile tracking systems to find people hiding inside containers and trucks would help to protect smuggled people and greatly aid the border control police. Requirements for such systems are that they need to be used without breaking any containment seal, and that they provide rapid analysis with low false positives and negatives. Analytical instruments that provide a chemical fingerprint of volatile compounds associated with the human body can fulfil that role. 

The development of gas sensors that achieve a good selectivity for specific compounds or substance groups and, at the same time, have sensitivities in the ppt-ppb range, represents a major challenge. However, ion mobility spectrometry (IMS) has these capabilities, and importantly, owing to its size and power consumption, it can be integrated into portable systems.   

In a recent KIRAS DHS-AS project, a portable analytical prototype instrument containing a commercially available aspiration IMS (aIMS) in combination with an electrochemical aldehyde sensor and three metal oxide sensors was developed. We discovered that owing to the complexity of the volatiles present in trucks, a more specific analysis of the volatile compounds characteristic for human presence is necessary. We plan to solve this through further instrumental development within the bilateral KIRAS project TRACK.  

To receive a more specific analysis of the characteristic volatiles a high resolution IMS with dual polarities coupled with a fast chromatographic separation unit in a miniaturized system will be developed by German partners at Leibnitz University of Hannover and Airsense GmbH, with the close cooperation of the Institute for Breath Research (IBR). Additionally, a polymer based ammonia sensor and a biometric sensor based on dog olfactory proteins will be developed by the Austrian Institute of Technology (AIT), which will be integrated into a new prototype instrument with the aim to further improve the chemical specificity.  

Using human samples of urine, breath, sweat, etc. a database of key volatiles which are sufficient and necessary for human detection together with their concentration ranges will be established. Measurements of background air in containers and confounder compounds, such as air pollutants and fragrances, including various test scenarios (such as trucks and containers with and without cargo, and with and without people placed inside) under different operating conditions (e.g. temperature and humidity) will be investigated in field trials. The Austrian Ministry of Interior, the Johanniter Austria Ausbildung und Forschung GmbH, the Johanniter Unfallhilfe in Germany and the German Federal Police will be extensively involved in the planning and investigations of tests from the beginning of and throughout the duration of this project. This will ensure that the development of our system and its subsequent future deployment will strengthen the effectiveness and speed of search operations to find people who are being illegally transported. 

Project leader
Dr. Veronika Ruzsanyi, Universität Innsbruck, Institut für Atemgasanalytik

Project partner 
Institut für Atemgasanalytik, Universität Innsbruck
Austrian Institute of Technology
Johanniter Österreich Ausbildung und Forschung gemeinnützige GmbH
Bundesministerium für Inneres

Project partner Germany
Airsense Analytics GmbH
Leibnitz Universität Hannover
Johanniter-Unfall-Hilfe e.V.
Bundespolizei, Referat 65
Generalzolldirektion, Direktion II
Einsatz- und Ermittlungsunterstützung der Bundespolizei, Bundespolizeiinspektion Rosenheim

Dr. Veronika Ruzsanyi, Universität Innsbruck, Institut für Atemgasanalytik
Innrain 66, 5. Stock, 6020 Innsbruck
Telefon: +43 512 504 24632