Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Back to where it all begins

Last year was the International Year of Chemistry and we celebrated the commercialization of the photoionization detector at the reception to honor Dr. Jack Driscoll, the father of photoionization, at The Chemistry of Industrial Hygiene Instrumentation at the American Industrial Hygiene Conference and Exposition. The event featured three speakers including the guest of honor who told the story of starting HNU Systems, Inc. way back in 1973, including his first sales visits, his AHA! moment-beating out the competition with the non-destructive photoionization detector vs. the sample destroying flameionization detector and the work on the first Superfund sites with the HNU detector. I've been trying to get a copy of his talk to post on the blog but to no avail-it's likely the anecdotes he shared with us were told in stream of consciousness and have not in fact been written down... Maybe I'll get him to talk at the American Chemical Society Fall National Meeting in Philly (August 2012) at the Small Chemical Businesses Division program: True Stories of Success from Chemical Entrepreneurs and at the Northeast Regional Meeting NERM of the American Chemical Society in Rochester, NY (October 2012). His stories are rich in context, detail and humor that makes him laugh when he tells the story! 

So back to where it all begins...The Model 101 photoionization detector-it is no coincidence that Jack dubbed it the 101-with a passion for education, he chose Model 101 as the jumping off point, where the foundation is laid: the basics in any college level course are introduced in the 101 course. Then as one progresses through their education they move to the next course level or in the case of our client base, they would move to the automated, continuous total VOC monitor, the Model 201. We continue the progression moving onto the 301, 401 and 501 gas chromatograph-based analyzers; of course the "graduate level" or 500 series are the most complex requiring a chromatographer as chief operator to interpret analytical results.

Plenty of folks still use and service the Model 101 analyzers, yes, with the analog meter and heavy duty construction (pre-ergonomics) favoring the fast response time and ease of operation (remember it's the 101-anyone can be trained to use it). I'm told "old school" industrial hygienists still record readings by hand even if they are utilizing a digital readout like our Model 102 and especially if they are using the datalog function. We take 101's in on trade-in and still have them available for sale for those nostalgic die-hard folks who won't move into the digital age. Maybe it is a fear of the disposable instrumentation and or appliances that have crept into the commercial and residential corners of our lives. Our original prototype of the Model 102 was actually constructed out of metal (like the 101) but after extensive market analysis was rejected for ABS plastic construction in consideration of user fatigue-workplace ergonomics. 

I got up this morning wanting to blog about the Model 102 and yet it seems I can never just get there without talking about the greatness of it's predecessor. It's impossible not to with the 40 year anniversary looming so near (2013) and seeing so many Model 101 service units still coming into our shop every week. And yet, in my career at HNU/PID Analyzers, I was instrumental in the design, function and development of the Model 102 participating in all the research & development sessions including choosing the color and field testing it for the engineers at client sites. So here it is folks, my best sales pitch for the Model 102: the Model 102 is a modern portable VOC detector employing photoionization as the detection principle boasting the best sensitivity in the industry with the widest dynamic range (ppb to high ppm). With a library of over 250 chemical compounds to allow the analyzer to respond as a particular compound ie) vinyl chloride and/or ethylene dichloride or gasoline and/or diesel (there are actual settings for these) etc. the list really does go on and on. By utilizing the unique Snap-On heads, customers are able to customize their analyzer to tailor their exact needs ie) make your own analyzer including a 4-gas meter.  With it's lightweight construction and ease of calibration this is the ultimate screening tool for anyone working with chemicals both in the field and in the laboratory (QA/QC batch analysis). For those wanting analyzer specifications, the product brochure for the Model 102 is here and the product line brochure for the field portable analyzers is here.

And yes, I am a Dickey Betts fan. Hence the title of this blog post.

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