GE tests next-gen smoke alarms

Saturday, December 1, 2007

NISKAYUNA, N.Y.--If GE's current fire-detection research bears fruit, in the next three to five years GE's smoke alarms will be able to give more advanced warning of fires with pre-combustion alarms.
"This is next-gen stuff, and we're in the research phase right now," said Joe Krisciunas, who leads the security program developments at GE's Global Research Center. Based here, the Global Research Center does R&D work for all of GE's businesses.
Typically, early-warning fire alarm systems look at "gas composition ... what the chemistry of the fire looks like after fire starts," Krisciunas said. GE is taking a different approach with its current research, looking at "moving that timeline back [to see] what the gas signature looks like prior to combustion ... so you can issue an alarm or warning that says, 'something's not quite right.'"
The center, said Krisciunas, has an "arsenal of PhDs of chemistry" who are working with two other GE groups on this project: one from GE's sensor business that does small-scale sensing; and one from GE's Homeland Protection business that does trace detection. "We think we can leverage those three skill sets to develop a smoke system with advanced warning capabilities," he said.
The intention is to have a detection technique that integrates with existing fire systems, and the "goal is to have it look as much like [today's] smoke detectors as possible," he said.