Monitoring Enclosed Atmospheres With Confidence: Real-time Detection Using Ion Mobility Spectrometry 2000-01-2431
In the enclosed atmosphere of a submarine the provision of breathing air to meet health and safety requirements involves a complex system of purification and monitoring. The breathable atmosphere within a nuclear-powered submarine, isolated from free air, must be maintained 24 hours a day for up to ninety days or more consecutively. As a consequence of this continuous regime, maximum permissible concentrations (MPCs) imposed for submarines are lower than the accepted Health and Safety Executive (and equivalent) exposure limits. Life gases and major contaminants are monitored continuously, and minor contaminants may be monitored either retrospectively or in real-time according to their categorisation. For toxic or harmful vapours which require localised real-time monitoring, the detection equipment must be reliable at the low detection levels required and, preferably, user-friendly, robust, restricted in size and weight, require low power consumption, and be cost effective. Ion mobility spectrometry has been applied successfully in this environment to the monitoring of specific materials at low parts per billion concentrations because of its sensitivity.