We have invented a sensor that quantifies acetone concentrations in gas flow in real time. Acetone belongs to the ketone family of compounds and is present in mammalian blood and breath, is an atmospheric pollutant and is present in homemade TATP explosive devices.
Ketones occur naturally when one burns fat for energy. Sufferers of type-I diabetes (T1D) have elevated levels because they are unable to burn glucose for energy. When sufferers are not managing their condition well, or when children are diagnosed with T1D, they often have the potentially fatal condition diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA). DKA is treated in expensive intensive-care units and is monitored frequently by invasive blood tests.
DKA can be treated cheaply on wards, but there blood-test results return hours later (as there is no fast access to testing equipment) and no longer represent the patient’s present condition, so cannot inform changes in treatment. Our breath-acetone sensor could act as a bedside monitor that tests a patients condition directly and non-invasively giving clinicians real-time feedback that can be acted upon to individualise and optimise treatment.