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Billerica, MA, United States

Patent
Aerodyne Research, Inc. | Date: 2013-08-07

In example embodiments, particle collection efficiency in aerosol analyzers and other particle measuring instruments is improved by a particle capture device that employs multiple collisions to decrease momentum of particles until the particles are collected (e.g., vaporized or come to rest). The particle collection device includes an aperture through which a focused particle beam enters. A collection enclosure is coupled to the aperture and has one or more internal surfaces against which particles of the focused beam collide. One or more features are employed in the collection enclosure to promote particles to collide multiple times within the enclosure, and thereby be vaporized or come to rest, rather than escape through the aperture.


Grant
Agency: NSF | Branch: Continuing grant | Program: | Phase: | Award Amount: 90.00K | Year: 2015

This project, funded by the Environmental Chemistry program of the Chemistry Division at the national Science Foundation, investigates the chemical and physical properties of secondary organic aerosol (SOA) particles produced in the atmosphere by reactions of gas-phase organic chemicals (emitted by vegetation, industrial and transportation sources) with ozone and hydroxyl radicals. SOA is a complex mixture of thousands of low-volatility organic species that condense on preexisting atmospheric particles and form a large fraction of atmospheric particulates that impact human health and alter climate and visibility.

This collaborative project brings together research groups from Boston College (BC) and Aerodyne Research, Inc. (ARI) with demonstrated expertise in SOA production and measurement of submicron SOA particle properties and a group at the University of California, Berkeley (UCB) with capabilities in modeling the thermodynamic and molecular dynamic properties of liquid, glassy and crystalline organic materials. The project supports a series of laboratory experiments, directed by Professor Paul Davidovits at BC and Dr. Charles Kolb at ARI, that characterize the dynamic properties of mixtures of SOA-like surrogate chemicals as well as laboratory generated SOA particles. The UCB theoretical team, led by Professor David Chandler, is formulating models to reproduce the dynamic properties of SOA measured in thin film deposition and fine particle reactive uptake experiments, with the goal of predicting the impact of relative humidity and temperature on thermodynamic and kinetic properties of SOA/water systems found in the atmosphere. The coupling of fundamental, theoretical, and experimental dynamics of glassy organic material help clarify and codify the roles of SOA in cloud formation, cloud and aerosol radiative properties and cloud precipitation. The project trains students to work in an interdisciplinary team that includes fundamental physical chemists, applied aerosol physicists and atmospheric chemists. The resulting theoretical tools is used by the atmospheric science community to better predict and parameterize SOA particle climate impacts and SOA particle inhalation exposures, with direct societal benefits.


Grant
Agency: Department of Energy | Branch: | Program: SBIR | Phase: Phase II | Award Amount: 1.20M | Year: 2015

Aerosol particles are known to affect the global climate through direct absorption and reflection of solar radiation and through cloud formation. Globally, it is believed that ~50% of cloud condensation nuclei (CCN) originate from atmospheric new particle formation and growth. Sulfuric acid vapor plays a key role in new particle formation, although detailed mechanisms remain unclear. Recent experiments have shown that trace levels of organic amine vapors can enhance particle nucleation by 1000 times or more compared to sulfuric acid alone or sulfuric acid plus ammonia. Amine vapor concentrations are typically very low and at the detection limit of current measurement techniques. The evaluation of atmospheric nucleation rates and particle growth is limited by sparse amine vapor measurements and the resulting lack of knowledge of atmospheric amine budgets. The proposed use of amines for CO2 sequestration may increase ambient amine concentrations and has significant implications for aerosol CCN budgets and their cloud interactions. This SBIR project will develop an instrument for the detection of ambient amines with a factor of 10 to 1000 times better sensitivity than current instruments, in order to improve characterization of global amine budgets and our understanding of their role in aerosol formation. We will develop and commercialize a new chemical ionization mass spectrometer that employs sulfuric acid cluster ionization chemistry for the selective and quantitative detection of gas-phase organic amines. The Phase I project successfully demonstrated the feasibility of detecting organic amines and ammonia in the 1 to 10 parts per trillion by volume concentration range in both laboratory experiments and in ambient air using the proposed technology. The Phase II project will focus on further refinement of the sulfuric acid cluster ion source and inlet, calibration schemes, and construction of a prototype instrument with evaluation in both laboratory and field settings. Commercial Applications and Other Benefits: The initial market for this instrument will be atmospheric research groups at universities and national laboratories with research programs focusing on new particle formation and growth. Larger applications include carbon capture and sequestration pilot projects using amine solvents, amine gas treatment at refineries and natural gas processing plants, forensic science, and breath analysis. We expect that the system developed in this program will yield a significant level of direct commercial sales and contract field measurements.


Grant
Agency: Department of Commerce | Branch: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration | Program: SBIR | Phase: Phase II | Award Amount: 400.00K | Year: 2015

Greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions are primary drivers of global climate change. Hence there is a crucial need to quantify their sources and sinks. A powerful method to constrain source and sink strengths is the analysis of the relative proportions of isotopic variants of GHG’s in atmospheric samples like those collected globally by NOAA’s Cooperative Air Sampling Network. Measurements that are capable of informing climate science require extremely high precision. The standard technique, isotope ratio mass spectrometry (IRMS), is precise but is limited by laborious sample processing requirements, high capital cost, high maintenance and impracticality of field deployment. We avoid these limitations with an alternative method to measure the isotopic composition of the most important GHG: carbon dioxide. Using Tunable Infrared Laser Direct Absorption Spectroscopy (TILDAS), we demonstrate measurement precision at least as good as IRMS and exceeding that requested until Sub-Topic 8.3.1 for ō13C-CO2 (0.006 vs. 0.01‰_ and ō18O-CO2 (0.007 vs. 0.02‰). During Phase II we will produce and demonstrate a commercial instrument meeting this standard while measuring small discreet air samples (


Grant
Agency: National Aeronautics and Space Administration | Branch: | Program: SBIR | Phase: Phase II | Award Amount: 750.00K | Year: 2016

We propose to develop a highly sensitive and compact RGB DPAS aerosol absorption monitor for NASA's Airborne Measurement Program. It will measure aerosol light absorption simultaneous at three spectral regions: blue, green and red. The proposed measurement technique takes advantage of the current rapid development on high-power semiconductor lasers MEMS microphones. It will eventually weigh less than 25 pounds and consume approximately 300W electrical power. It will also be capable of being remotely controlled and being operated at a variety of sampling pressure conditions for the airborne measurements. Since majority of the electronic and optical components of the proposed system are commercially available except the home-designed acoustic cells, its total manufacturing cost could be less than $20,000 per unit.

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