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Gas-Phase Pollutant Research Projects

Page history last edited by ashley.collier@... 10 years, 6 months ago



Mobile Air Quality Sensing (MAQS)

Ricardo Piedrahita, Nick Masson, Ashley Collier, Yifei Jiang, Kun Li, Xiang Yun



The MAQS project is working on using low-cost technology for continuous networked personal monitoring of carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, ozone, nitrogen dioxide, and volatile organic compounds. Multiple monitoring instruments have been developed within the group utilizing the low-cost gas phase sensors used in the MAQS personal exposure sampler. Of note is the group's continued development of high quality calibration techniques for these sensors.


Additional Projects Using Low-Cost Gas-Phase Sensors:


Cooking up Clean Air -- Scaled-up Air Quality and Health Impacts of Clean Cookstoves in Ghana.  

Investigating the health benefit of solar powered lighting vs. traditional kerosene lamps in rural Ugandan dwellings.



Sensor Array Project for Monitoring Complex Mixtures of Gases

John Ortega


John Ortega is currently working on using multiple low-cost gas-phase sensors to identify individual carbonaceous compounds in a mixture. You can find a summary of his work here. Shown below (left) is the calibration set up where different gasses (such as gasoline vapor, methane, CO, or other volatile organic compounds) are mixed with air in specific quantities to study the effects of the different sensors to these gases. The system is controlled with a laptop, USB-based DAQ, mass flow controllers, and some other minor electronics. Gasses can be tested individually or in combined ratios. They are mixed with zero-grade air to achieve realistic concentrations in the ppb to ppm range. The sensor array containing a mixture of metal-oxide sensors made by E2V Technologyies and Figaro is also shown below on the right. Also included in the array is a photo-ionization detector made by Baseline Mocon. The interaction of the individual units are used to separate the signals of each constituent gas in the mixture.




Natural Gas Emission Monitoring

Joanna Gordon



Natural gas exploration in Colorado may have multiple environmental impacts, including increased gas-phase pollutant emissions. The AirWaterGas Sustainability Research Network is a collaborative effort working to assess the environmental impacts of natural gas exploration. The Hannigan research group is involved in measurements of gas-phase pollutants for the AirWaterGas project.



Dry-Deposition-Flux Chamber

Berkeley Almand, Nick Masson, Ricardo Piedrahita



Our research group is working on developing inexpensive flux chambers to measure gas-phase dry deposition. Dry deposition occurs when gases or particles are deposited onto a surface (water, ground, vegetation, etc.) in the absence of precipitation. The deposition of compounds such as SO2, NO, NO2, HNO3, O3, and NH3 can damage vegetation and aquatic ecosystems. Dry deposition accounts 25-80% of atmospheric deposition (depending on location), and dry deposition measurements are expensive and/or complex. As a result, most regulatory sites do not measure dry deposition, but measure ambient concentrations and use models to determine fluxes. This method is problematic because the models can disagree with measurements by up to 100%. Our research effort addresses this issue by developing a robust, inexpensive, and continuous multiple-species gas-flux monitoring system, which will be able to provide data for a variety of relevant atmospheric pollutants.  We are working on developing inexpensive sensors ($5-100) for our flux chambers, as well as exploring the possibility of connecting the chambers to existing instruments. While working towards our ultimate goal of a complete instrument that costs less than $5000, we can use our chambers with existing instruments to take flux measurements at sites that could previously only measure concentration.



Denver EPA Environmental Justice Project

Ashley Collier, Ricardo Piedrahita, Nick Masson


 Current air quality monitoring capabilities are limited in terms of spatial extent.  These methods tend to rely on a few high-cost instruments that monitor the air quality of an entire city, which may leave individuals with little information regarding variances throughout their communities.  As poor air quality is becoming linked with a rise in asthma and other health problems, there is a need for personally relevant air quality data.   Our research team (at the University of Colorado, Boulder) has developed cost-effective, portable air quality monitors that might empower individuals or groups to carry out their own preliminary investigations into their personal or their community‚Äôs air quality.  


Read the Full Report!


North Fork Valley, Air Monitoring Project

Ashley Collier, Joanna Gordon, Ricardo Piedrahita, Nick Masson 




Project Summary:


          The University of Colorado, Boulder has been developing these next-generation air quality monitoring systems for the past few years.  These systems are low-cost and versatile, and the hope is that they will make monitoring more accessible, thereby facilitating more citizen science efforts.  For this project, we will utilize a network of these monitors throughout the North Fork Valley, as well as, some mobile monitors to gather baseline air quality data throughout the valley.  A large focus of this project is community outreach and part of this effort will include the participation of local high school and possibly citizen scientists; students will assist with study design, operating and maintaining the monitors, and data analysis.  We are hoping to site the monitors (10 total, including stationary and mobile) and begin data collection toward the end of September, 2013.  The project is currently ongoing.


Funding provided by University of Colorado, Boulder Outreach (Boulder, CO) and the Center for Conservation (Paonia, CO)



Local Publicity:


Article: Grand Junction Daily Sentinel 


Radio Interview: KVNU


Article: Delta County Independent

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