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Development grant for University of Oxford spin out makes perfect sensor


Oxford RF Sensors, a company that designs non-contact electromagnetic sensors based on patented Radio Frequency (RF) technology developed at the University of Oxford, has been awarded a SEEDA Development grant of £170,000 to develop simple inexpensive water quality sensors.

Oxford RF Sensors, a spin out of the University of Oxford and which is supported by the Oxford Enterprise Hub, specialises in providing innovative solutions to measurement problems that existing sensor technologies cannot solve.  RF Sensors have significant advantages over existing non contact sensor technologies in many applications.

Given their versatility, RF sensors are used in a high number and variety of difficult environments.  As well as detecting and discriminating between materials such as ferrous metals, non ferrous metals, composites, glasses, plastics and liquids, they can also measure aspects such as fluid flow, fluid level and fluid contamination.  And as well as being extremely sensitive and have low power consumption, RF sensors operate in extreme temperatures, from minus 170°C to over 1,000°C.

Oxford RF Sensors already produce sensors for a variety of applications in aerospace, construction, automotive, oil & petrochemical, medical and waste recycling.

The development of water quality sensors is important because it will have significant impact in a variety of industrial applications and also in relatively undeveloped economies.

Commenting on the grant, Ross Walker, CEO of Oxford RF Sensors, said: “This money will be used to develop a range of real time sensors to detect changes in water quality.  These will range from simple, inexpensive self powered sensors to detect change in water quality in drinking wells, to real time sensors to monitor water in industrial processes. At present most water sensing is an off line activity and analysis takes time, so the information is only as good as your last sample. What we will be offering is continuous real time information. If a process changes for whatever reason, machinery malfunction or human error, you will know about it immediately. Think of it as an electronic goldfish. When it floats belly up you know you have a problem and you can take appropriate action”

Oxfordshire Enterprise Hub has provided valuable support and advice to Oxford RF Sensors. “There is no doubt that the Hub’s input to the grant process ensured that our application was successful,” explained Ross.

“The Enterprise Hub was able to call on the British Library to produce a tailored market report to help Oxford RF Sensors understand the major stakeholders and the size of the market opportunity,” said Wendy Tindsley, Portfolio Director for the Oxfordshire Enterprise Hub.  “We then worked with the company over a period of months to help them put together a SEEDA R&D grant application.

“This is an important and highly significant project for Oxford RF Sensors, which ultimately will provide safe drinking water in third world countries and will ensure that water used in industrial processes is safe and potable.”

Contact: Ally Charles
Publish Date: 27th November 2008

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