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International Journal of Distributed Sensor Networks
Volume 2012 (2012), Article ID 820716, 13 pages
Research Article

A Wireless Sensor Network for Precise Volatile Organic Compound Monitoring

1University of Florence and The MIDRA Consortium, 50139 Florence, Italy
2Health, Safety, Environment and Quality Department, Eni S.p.A., 00144 Rome, Italy
3Netsens s.r.l, Sesto Fiorentino, 50019 Florence, Italy

Received 24 November 2011; Accepted 8 February 2012

Academic Editor: Carlos Ramos

Copyright © 2012 Gianfranco Manes et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


A variety of methods have been developed to monitor VOC concentration in hazardous sites. The methods range from calculation to measurement, point measuring to remote sensing. Some are suited for leak detection, others for estimation of the annual emission or both. None of the following available methods comes close to the ideal method. A distributed instrument providing precise monitoring of Volatile Organic Compound (VOC) concentration in a petrochemical plant is described; it consists of a Wireless Sensor Network (WSN) platform whose nodes are equipped with meteorological/climatic sensors and VOC detectors. Internet connectivity is provided in real time at a one-minute sampling rate, thus providing environmental authorities and plant management with an unprecedented tool for immediate warning in case of critical events. The paper describes the WSN platform, detailing various units (gateways, nodes, detectors) and shows the features of scalability and reconfigurability, with minimal intrusiveness or obtrusiveness. Environmental and process data are forwarded to a remote server and made available to the authenticated users through a rich user interface that provides data rendering in various formats and worldwide access to data. A survey of the VOC detector technologies involved is also provided.