Tuesday 6 July 2021

Accelerating the delivery of environmental benefits.

The Finnish city of Lahti is accelerating the delivery of environmental benefits with the assistance of Vaisala. With sustainability at its core, and featuring in many of its products, Vaisala (a Finnish company) is Lahti’s ideal partner.

The European Commission established the annual European Green Capital Award in 2008 to promote and reward commitment and innovation to resolve environmental challenges. Lahti has been awarded the prestigious title of European Green Capital 2021, with previous winners including Nantes, Copenhagen, Bristol, Ljubljana, Essen, Nijmegen, Oslo, and most recently Lisbon.

Vaisala’s roots in environmental measurements can be traced back to its origins, when in the 1930s Professor Vilho Väisälä invented some of the operating principles of radiosondes; updated versions of this are still used to this day to measure vital meteorological parameters. From a humble beginning, Vaisala has grown to become the world’s leading manufacturer and supplier of weather monitoring equipment and services. The importance of measurements undertaken with Vaisala equipment has grown enormously, enabling researchers to track, model, and predict climate change.

Curiosity and innovation were two key features in Vaisala’s early development. They still underpin the company to this day, together with a clear customer focus, product quality, and sustainability.

As a core value, sustainability drives every aspect of Vaisala’s operations; from its own business practices to the impact of its products. Vaisala has integrated the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) into its strategic planning in order to contribute to sustainable development and find inspiration for the development of new business and sustainable business practices.

Few companies can claim to operate on 100% renewable energy, but this is one of the ways in which Vaisala has knitted sustainability into its everyday operations. In recognition of its achievements, Vaisala was recently ranked 14th in the Financial Times (GB) list of 300 European climate leaders. However, for Vaisala, the greatest sustainability impact is through the use of its products: customers can, for example, prepare for extreme weather, make renewable energy production more efficient, or reduce emissions from their industrial processes.

In addition to its world-leading role in meteorological measurements, Vaisala develops measurement technologies for industrial applications in almost every sector. These technologies enable customers to optimize their processes, lower costs, reduce waste, decrease energy consumption, and in some cases reduce the emissions of greenhouse gases.

There are perhaps too many applications to list here, but good examples include advanced carbon dioxide measurement technology in supermarkets and food storage facilities to enable safe monitoring of natural refrigerants rather than CFCs and HCFCs, which are very powerful greenhouse gases. Similarly, Vaisala has developed a unique in-line gas monitoring probe for biogas, which enables operators to optimize the generation of renewable energy, derive more value from organic waste, improve profitability, lower greenhouse gas emissions, and recycle agricultural nutrients.

Many of Vaisala’s industrial measurement technologies enable process optimization. For example, sensors measuring the refractive index of liquids are used in a wide variety sectors, including food and beverage, semiconductors, chemical and refining, pulp and paper, textiles and pharmaceutical. In brewing, for example, in-line sensors are used to optimize every stage of the process and ensure the production of consistent quality beer.

Ever since the company was founded, Vaisala has demonstrated a heavy commitment to product quality. This is because customers use data from Vaisala instruments to make important decisions, so there is a constant drive in the company to find ways to make the products perform better. This focus on product quality has become a brand value for Vaisala and is one of the main reasons for the company’s enduring success.

The quality, flexibility, and reliability of Vaisala’s products have generated an extraordinarily wide global customer base, but the list of applications has stretched even beyond planet Earth. When working on NASA’s Mars rovers, the scientists needed reliable sensors that would be sufficiently robust to operate in the challenging Martian climate. Vaisala’s humidity and pressure sensors have therefore been measuring on Mars in the ‘Curiosity’ rover since August 2012 and in the ‘Perseverance’ rover since February 2021.* The core technologies employed by these sensors are the same as those deployed in applications here on Earth.

Curiosity, innovation, and customer focus
While Vaisala constantly seeks to recruit individuals with curiosity, drive, and imagination, it also focuses on developing products that meet customer needs. This is achieved by continuous and strong investments in R&D and an over-riding culture of continuous improvement.

Vaisala’s ability to solve customers’ problems stretches back through its history. In the early 1970s, humidity was measured by hair hygrometers or psychrometers which were bulky and notoriously unreliable. In 1973, Vaisala introduced HUMICAP®, the world’s first thin-film capacitive humidity sensor. Since then, Vaisala has become the market leader in relative humidity measurements, and thin-film capacitive humidity sensors have developed from one company’s innovation into a global industry standard. Initially developed for meteorology, HUMICAP sensors are now employed in applications as diverse as greenhouses, bakeries, warehouses, construction sites, brick and timber kilns, wine cellars, museums, and art galleries.

More recently, Vaisala technology has been utilized in the fight against COVID-19, with customers seeking accurate, reliable measurements for parameters such as carbon dioxide inside the incubators that are used to cultivate viruses for vaccine development.

Partnership with the European Green Capital 2021

Vaisala’s sustainability story continues with the European Green Capital. Air pollution causes an estimated 7 million premature deaths per year globally, 400,000 of which are in Europe. While Finland enjoys better air quality than most countries, some 1,800 premature deaths still occur every year. The partnership between Vaisala and Lahti will therefore focus on air quality and involve the installation of two compact air quality monitoring stations in the city centre.

Vaisala’s compact air quality sensors will monitor continuously and complement the reference-grade air quality monitoring stations that Lahti has been using so far to assess the quality of air in the city. The data will also help to investigate the sources of pollutants such as nitrogen dioxide and fine particulates, which are likely to be derived from diesel vehicles and wood-burning stoves.

In Lahti, Vaisala continues its long-standing mission to provide customers with the world's most reliable measurements where it truly matters. With this data, researchers and decisions-makers can optimize their operations and make decisions to tackle the greatest climate and sustainability challenges of our time.

* Red, hot and humid? Finding out! (16/2/2021) and More news from the Red Planet! (15/4/2021)

@VaisalaGroup @GreenLahti2021 @EU_ENV @EU_GreenCapital @SustDev #Environment #Europe

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