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Author Topic: Interesting read about E-NOSE. / Came from the S.C. Forestry News Letter  (Read 650 times)

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Offline POSTON WIDEHEAD

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Electronic Noses and Forests?


What if a machine could detect insects and diseases in living trees or help prevent log theft and illegal logging by tracking individual logs from the forest to the lumberyard? What about a machine that researchers could use to identify and understand the ecological roles of microorganisms, insects and other invertebrates that live in and on trees?
It may sound like the stuff of science fiction, but such machines do exist, and they’re called electronic noses, or e-noses. E-noses mimic the mammal sense of smell, and while they are not as complex as the human olfactory system, they can provide real-time information about the chemical and physical nature and quality of plants, and plant and animal products. E-noses ‘smell’ with sensors, and recognize mixtures of gases rather than individual gases. Gas emissions at lumber mills and forest-product manufacturing facilities are often complex mixtures of gases, and e-noses are widely used to monitor, detect, and control hazardous waste emissions from these industries.
Plants make a wide range of chemical compounds, and many of these compounds boil at low temperatures, easily becoming airborne as gases. These compounds are called volatile organic compounds, and e-noses are especially useful for detecting them. Stressed plants, whether insect- infested or diseased, emit abnormal chemicals that e-noses can detect. This information can provide land managers and researchers important clues about what’s happening
below the bark. Wilson pioneered the use of e-noses in diagnosing tree diseases and identifying damaging insects like termites and microbial pests that cause vascular wilt, wetwood, and wood decay. Detecting wood decay early is especially important in urban forests, as falling trees or branches could injure people and damage property. To find out the type of tree disease present in a living tree and which microbes are involved, an increment borer is used to take a wood core sample to be placed in the e-nose instrument and analyzed.
E-noses can also be used to study the role of microbes, insects and
other invertebrates in forests. These small creatures have a big
influence on forests, causing trees to die and decompose, cycling
nutrients and changing forest structure and ecosystem functions. E-
noses are so precise that they can be used to track individual logs.
Service managers can use e-nose devices to track high-value logs
harvested on public lands from the forest to the lumber yard. This
capability helps to prevent log theft. Similar methods potentially could
be used on a broader scale to identify lumber milled from logs that had
been taken illegally. Tracking bar codes on logs can be removed by thieves, but the aroma signature of individual logs can be used as a fingerprint to identify individual logs regardless of tree species or external markings. E-noses are poised to become even more useful and accessible.
Where's the Spoon?


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