When it comes to heavy industry, the smoke and carbon monoxide detectors you have at home just don’t cut it. To say nothing of monitoring for toxic gases and environmental contaminants.
That's where Pittsburgh's SenSevere
is finding its niche as a manufacturer of specialized sensors that operate in the "severe" environments found in heavy industry, chemical and power plants and the like.
Jason Gu and Peter Foller founded the company in 2010, around the time that Gu was finishing his Ph.D. at Carnegie Mellon in material science engineering. Gu had been working on the technology for several years; Foller brought the industrial experience needed to see the possibilities for commercialization, Gu says.
Today the company is in limited production of its hardware – sensors that can monitor hydrogen, hydrocarbons, toxic gases like ammonia, environmental contaminants like bromides and more in hazardous industrial environments.
SenSevere recently received $200,000 in funding from Innovation Works
to develop and commercialize a new hydrogen sensor. Hydrogen, Gu explains, is an undesirable byproduct of certain chemical processes that can cause explosions. But most sensors corrode fast in these harsh environments. SenSevere is pilot testing its sturdy sensor at a West Virginia chemical plant with the expectation of moving to a larger beta test in the spring and a third-quarter commercial release.
Several other new products are in the pipeline: a sensor for detecting bromide – a dangerous carcinogen – in water supplies for treatment plants and a new hydrogen sensor for energy generation facilities.
With three fulltime employees, the company is shorthanded and expects to add three or four positions within the year, Gu says.
Source: Jason Gu, SenSevere
Writer: Elise Vider