National Aeronautics and Space Administration

Glenn Research Center

Lifeloc Technologies

November 30, 2013

Company Info:

The SENTINEL alcohol screening system enables high-volume “zero tolerance” screening of employees, contractors and visitors in safety sensitive industries such as Mining, Construction and Oil and Gas. The SENTINEL can significantly reduce industrial accidents linked to alcohol consumption.
Credit: Lifeloc Technologies

Located in Wheat Ridge Colorado, Lifeloc Technologies designs and manufactures Portable Breath Alcohol Testers commonly referred to as “Breathalyzers” for law enforcement, the workplace, corrections, education and personal use. Since its founding in 1983, the corporate mission has been to build the most precise, reliable and easiest to use alcohol breath testing devices in the industry. An innovative American company, Lifeloc Technologies has an interest in developing new breathalyzer products.

“We are very pleased to continue our program with NASA.  We believe we are on to something of real significance to our business.”
-Barry Knott, President, Lifeloc Technologies

As a member of CAMT, The Colorado Association for Manufacturing Technologies, the CAMT-NASA Technology Matching program, encouraged President Barry Knott to meet with NASA Glenn Research Center Subject Matter Experts (SME) in sensor technology.

Challenge:

One of NASA Glenn’s competencies is the development of sensors. The Sensors and Electronics Branch at NASA Glenn conducts research and development in sensing concepts, sensor technology, high temperature electronics and related areas such as, materials and materials processing techniques. Emphasis is on developing advanced capabilities for measurement and control of aerospace propulsion systems, particularly for harsh environments and safety applications. Chemical species sensors for leak detection and monitoring for emission safety is one of the special areas of investigation for the sensors team.

NASA Glenn expert in chemical sensors, Dr. Gary Hunter, was introduced to the current technology used in designing Lifeloc’s breathalyzers. Dr. Hunter worked cooperatively with the research and development team at Lifeloc led by the VP of Technology Development, Gurumurthi Ravishankar, to develop one or two possible design alternatives for the alcohol sensor. The strategy was to plan for a smaller, more accurate and stable sensor with the ability to delineate temperatures between -10C to 50C.

Solution:

The prototype of a new more reliable and easier-to-manufacture breathalyzer sensor was designed.  This miniaturized sensor was tested at Makel Engineering in Chico, CA. The preliminary results showed improvement in the accuracy and stability of the sensor’s temperature response.

Benefits:

Further testing and planning for the final design is currently underway. It is planned to move towards production within a year. The new breathalyzer would provide the commercial industry with more accuracy and stability. The potential for new jobs to produce the new product is still being planned.