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Volatile gas sensing

Stressed plants emit volatile organic compounds – gases that can be detected by advanced analytical methods such as mass spectrometry and gas chromatography. In TIME SCALE, Interscience is developing technology and methods for a future plant health monitoring systems.

Interscience is a company located in Benelux with extensive expertise in analytical methods based on gas chromatography and mass spectrometry. A substantial part of their business consists of designing and building tailor-made analysis systems for complex applications. For more than 10 years, Interscience has invested in research and hardware with respect to the SIFT-MS technique and has recently partnered with Syft Technologies, the manufacturer of the Voice200 SIFT-MS instrument. As a result, Interscience is now one of the most successful distributors of such instruments in the world.

Detecting stressed plants by sensing volatile gases

TIME SCALE aims at plant cultivation systems for space. To establish efficient production systems for space, it is crucial to continuously monitor the health of the plants. When plants grow at suboptimal conditions, they become stressed and start emitting volatile gases. Interscience designs instruments and develops methods to monitor such volatile gases emitted by the plants. The aim is to develop solutions capable of detecting suboptimal growth conditions so that the operator or system can manually or automatically react to it and improve the growth conditions.


This technology has obvious transfer potentials from space research to terrestrial applications; Large-scale industry greenhouses may in the future use such systems to monitor plant health and continuously optimize the growth conditions, improving production yield and product quality.

Read more about plant health monitoring in the TIME SCALE project through cooperation with Ghent University.


Selected ion flow tube mass spectrometry (SIFT-MS), as used in by the TIME SCALE project, can analyze trace amounts of volatile organic compounds and inorganic gases in air, and is an ideal tool for high-throughput and real-time gas analysis applications.