Contest VIU FONDEF will fund prototype for measuring moisture in wood

The initiative led by CEFOP’s researcher Mario Rojo was benefited by the III Contest Exploitation of Research at the University, VIU FONDEF. The initial incentive was two million pesos in its first stage and can be extended to a maximum of 24 million in the following steps.

“Non-invasive Optical Sensor for real-time measurement of moisture in wood:  towards its technological transfer” was part of the Mario Rojo’s Memory Project subject and then continued as Memory for the degree of Telecommunications Engineer, guided throughout the process by Professor Luis Arias, Center’s researcher. The members of CEFOP’s lab Spectral Processing and Radiometry, in Optoelectronics Division, also had the cooperation of Professor José Navarrete, Department of Wood academic of the Universidad del Bío- Bío, who provided them with assistance in defining the wood samples used.

“It all started with the pre-development of my undergraduate thesis, which was to estimate the percentage of moisture in wood ranges, where there are no instruments that operate at the time, by reflectance spectroscopy in the near infrared”, explained Mario. With calculations and mathematical models, he developed a more attractive alternative for the industry, achieving a concept of noninvasive sensor, wireless and real-time.

Support from CEFOP and UdeC

According to Mario’s testimony, Professor Arias was a great motivator to overcome obstacles. “He never lost motivation and that’s the main thing to work well. We had problems with the results at first, like any project, but the teacher was always supporting me and that’s the most important thing”, he said.

In almost a year and a half of work, Mario said that as the wood is a very heterogeneous material, the most difficult part was to define the optimal shape and size of the samples in order to achieve a controlled variation of humidity and obtain good measurements from that variable. “I had to turn to the experts at the Universidad del Bío-Bío, because they are who have more experience in this issue, and with professor Navarrete, who provided me a lab, we had the opportunity to process the necessary samples.”

Since November, Mario Rojo’s initiative is in its first phase, which includes a business plan and a market analysis in order to embed the application to the industry. The business incubator at the University of Concepción accompanies him in the process. “Patricia Aballays, IdeaIncuba’s Project Engineer, clarified me several doubts when I applied for the VIU FONDEF fund. That was also very important for the development of the application”.

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