Interview:
Mr. Wolf Münchm
eyer
CEO AIRSENSE Analytics

What motivated you to become part of the CBRNe world?

My partner Dr.-Ing. Andreas Walte and I met at the Technical University of Hamburg. There, we both developed and shared a great passion for the field of analytical chemistry. This became a passion for us, in the sense that it combines a variety of technical scientific skills and, of course, the desire – or need– to create something practical that benefits an end-user; in this case, one’s health or evenone’s life. 


The team that developed the first mobile mass spectrometer for the autonomous assessment of CWA was originally the professor – Dr. Walte – and the Institute. So many things we accomplished at the Institute in those days were already related to safety and security solutions. One of the first projects of the company was based on the cooperation with the Federal Department for Civil Protection and Disaster Managementin Germany. 

What is AIRSENSE Analytics’unique role for CBRNe professionals?

AIRSENSE Analytics is a fast-growing company making detectors mostly for chemical substances. The technology was developed with civilian applications in mind, such as in cases of first response, public events or occupational health situations. 

Civilian tasks are more demanding in the sense that they normally require recognition of a higher number and variety of (non-weapon) chemical substances. It turns out that smaller devices for military operations can also benefit from this experience in the civilian market. In addition, these solutions based on newer operational concepts are available to military users. With reliable partners and novel technological ideas, AIRSENSE is expanding its range of solutions in safety and security detection applications as well as those for measuring, such as in biological and radiological-nuclear situations. AIRSENSE is a technology-driven company with continuous research happening permanently. For example, solutions have additional features to adapt to and operational requirements to efficiently counter new CBRN threats.

Which non-conventional CBRNe threats do you consider a priority? And how is AIRSENSE working to meet these requirements? 

Based on our recent customer discussions, AIRSENSE has increasingly been asked to focus on threats caused by terrorist activities. While it is difficult to predict what kind of threats would come up the next day (e.g. substances, locations, sources), we see that preparedness becomes a more difficult and critical issue for both the responding personnel and the equipment they deploy. 

We have to consider that technical solutions should address a broader range of substances, and yet instruments have to be “flexible” in the sense that they are already prepared for the next threat of the day. 

This is true for many situations, even for non-intentional threats, such as the current situation of the new contagious coronavirus spreading across China and around the world. In this regard, “flexibility” means being prepared for the next threat of the day.

What do you believe to be the biggest obstacle to achieving the most efficient response by HazMat responderteams? 

Good question! We think that knowledge of the professional end-users – or at least of the expert consultants involved in operations – cannot be replaced by technology. We endeavor to increase instruments capability, availability and finally ease of operation. 

AIRSENSE is always putting much effort in making increased analytical capability available while requiring fewer operational skills. However, we are acutely aware that users need to understand the limits of the detection devices they are using. This understanding of limits requires prior professional and technical knowledge in CBRN matters and instrumentation beyond a basic level – otherwise it is dangerous for everybody involved. 

Many solutions from AIRSENSE have the capability to deal with a broad range of substances, thus offering a much higher level of safety in situations where there is limited knowledge – not expertise – among the team about substances, release and distribution. 

How can the industry best aid professionals as they address frontline CBRNe threats?

We have the opportunity to visit customers and brief and train them on the capabilities and uses of our equipment and perhaps the various other instruments in their cache of apparatus they might have – even if it is not from AIRSENSE. The training we provide can increase the customer’s overall expertise long before we sell a piece of equipment to them. We encourage CBRN leadership to make certain that users of our equipment stay well-trained on it after the time of sale.


CBRN response activities are never simple tasks. Adequate knowledge needs building up over time and practice and familiarity gained through a structured and regular training regime. It is not very helpful when trained specialists in one CBRN discipline are shifted to completely different tasks on an annual basis – or even more frequently. Training and preparation, especially with regards to vital detection and identification equipment, is paramount and something we in the industry can help provide before personnel re-shuffle happens.

Which was your best NCT conference experience so far? Why? 

Joining NCT is always a good experience for us. CBRN is a rather small community of professionals with very high skill levels and expertise for their own different reasons. The permanent exchange of news and information is essential for suppliers and end-users to stay ahead of demands. We like the social environment of NCT, and even more importantly, we expect a good outcome from the practical and technical lectures and the training program we have started to support. Also, here, the focus is not on promotion in the first place but also on the gaining of knowledge on all sides. 

AIRSENSE Analytics has committed itself to making the world a safer place as one of the leading manufacturers of reliable instruments for the detection of hazardous compounds in public security, catastrophe management and defense. The instruments which are produced in Germany are in use in many different areas to fight CBRNE threats. High end detection devices on chemicals, provide quick identification and analysis of toxic industrial chemical gases, chemical warfare agents and explosives.