Hayward, CA, United States

Brechtel Manufacturing, Inc.

www.brechtel.com
Hayward, CA, United States
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Grant
Agency: Department of Energy | Branch: | Program: SBIR | Phase: Phase I | Award Amount: 150.00K | Year: 2012

This Small Business Innovation Research Phase I project will support the development of a new, compact instrumentation package for unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). The package will include modules to measure aerosol size distributions, cloud condensation nucleus (CCN) concentrations, ambient turbulence and to acquire digital images during UAV flights. The instrument suite will be designed with a single, integrated control system so that any desired combination of instruments might be deployed. A coupled electrical-mobility, aerodynamic and light-scattering-based aerosol number size distribution measurement system will be developed capable of rapid airborne observations over the 0.01 to 10 micrometer diameter range. A turbulent-mixing-based condensation particle counter that has already operated on-board UAVs will serve as the detector for the new mobility-based sizer. A prototype of the mobility classifier will be fabricated and tested against conventional scanning differential mobility sizing systems using NIST traceable calibration particles. A novel light-scattering and Stokes-number-based sizing system will be designed, modeled and prototyped to simultaneously measure multiple particle properties for diameters larger than a few tenths of a micrometer. The large particle sizer development will focus on reducing the sizing uncertainties associated with methods based on light-scattering alone that suffer from multi-valued Mie scattering response. A miniaturized Cloud Condensation Nucleus (CCN) counter design will be developed and optimized using Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) modeling. For atmospheric turbulence measurements, gust probe, hot film, and sonic anemometer- based technologies will explored to determine which can be most effectively miniaturized and repackaged to fit the UAV payload. The various techniques will be evaluated with respect to sensitivity to platform attitude and motion. During the Phase II project, a prototype of the miniaturized turbulence system will be built and intercompared with commercially available hot film anemometers deployed within BMIs wind tunnel facility. Imaging technology will be integrated into the microprocessor-based control electronics to allow characterization of land and ocean surfaces during UAV flights. The overall development project will build upon BMIs existing UAV instrument suite development, in particular the deployment of aerosol instruments (particle counter, light absorption and filter-based chemical composition measurements) on- board a Manta UAV over the Arctic during the spring of 2011. The new technology will help mitigate current measurement limitations in applications that include aerosol health effects studies, flux measurements of aerosol species from ocean and land surfaces, studies of rapid aerosol evolution in power-plant plumes, creation of data sets for climate change and urban air shed air quality models, drug development by pharmaceutical firms, and indoor air quality monitoring for green buildings, industry and households.


Grant
Agency: Department of Energy | Branch: | Program: SBIR | Phase: Phase II | Award Amount: 1.00M | Year: 2013

This Small Business Innovation Research Phase II project addresses the need for new widespread datasets to help reduce uncertainties in current predictions of climate change and to improve our understanding of the health impacts of air pollutants. The development of a new, compact instrumentation package for unmanned aerial vehicles will include modules to measure aerosol size distributions, cloud condensation nucleus concentrations, ambient turbulence and to acquire digital images. A coupled electrical-mobility and light-scattering-based aerosol number size distribution measurement system will provide rapid airborne observations over the 0.01 to 10 micrometer diameter range. A condensation particle counter that has already operated on-board an unmanned aerial vehicle will serve as the small particle detector. The compact cloud condensation nucleus counter allows the cloud nucleating ability of particles to be determined and will be optimized using Computational Fluid Dynamics modeling. The large particle sizer development will focus on reducing the sizing uncertainties associated with existing light-scattering techniques that suffer from multi-valued Mie scattering response. Prototypes of the mobility classifier, cloud condensation nucleus counter and optical particle counter will be fabricated and tested against conventional scanning differential mobility sizing and other systems using traceable calibration particles. Prototypes of the turbulence and imaging systems will be constructed and tested under ambient conditions. During the Phase II project, the prototype of the miniaturized turbulence system will be inter-compared with commercially available hot film anemometers deployed within a wind tunnel facility with controllable turbulence levels. Imaging technology will be integrated with the instrument payload microprocessor-based control electronics to allow characterization of land and ocean surfaces during aerial vehicle flights. The overall development project will build upon six years of existing UAV instrument development, in particular the deployment of aerosol instruments (particle counter, light absorption and filter-based chemical composition measurements) on-board an unmanned aerial vehicle over the Arctic during the spring of 2011. Commercial Applications and Other Benefits: The new technology will help mitigate measurement limitations in applications that include creation of new and expanded data sets for climate change and urban air quality models, aerosol health effects studies, flux measurements of aerosol species from ocean and land surfaces, studies of rapid aerosol evolution in power-plant plumes, and indoor air quality monitoring for green buildings, industry and households.


Patent
Brechtel Manufacturing, Inc. | Date: 2015-07-15

A system and method comprising an ion production chamber having a ultra-violet light source disposed towards said chamber, a harvest gas disposed to flow through the chamber from an inlet to an outlet, and a jet, said jet operable to introduce a sample into the harvest gas flow. In some embodiments the system includes using helium as the harvest gas. Certain embodiments include introducing a sample perpendicular to the harvest gas flow and using multiple sample introduction jets to increase mixing efficiency. The charge sample may be coupled to a MEMS-based electrometer.


Patent
Brechtel Manufacturing, Inc. | Date: 2014-05-16

A system and method comprising a liquid interface with an electrode. The electrode may be coupled to a MEMS-based electrometer for sensing small amounts of charge imposed on the electrode. In some embodiments ion exchangers may be employed to provide for specific selectivity for certain ions or molecules. The electrometer may include a comb drive actuator coupled to a moving shuttle supported on flexures.


Patent
Brechtel Manufacturing, Inc. | Date: 2014-05-16

A system and method comprising an ion production chamber having a plasma source disposed in said chamber, a harvest gas disposed to flow through the chamber from an inlet to an outlet, and a jet, said jet operable to introduce a sample into the harvest gas flow. In some embodiments the system includes using helium as the harvest gas. Certain embodiments include introducing a sample perpendicular to the harvest gas flow and using multiple sample introduction jets to increase mixing efficiency. The charge sample may be coupled to a MEMS-based electrometer.


Patent
Brechtel Manufacturing, Inc. | Date: 2014-05-17

A system and method comprising a charger for ionizing aerosols; a spectrometer coupled to the charger and operable to select for a predetermined particle size; a porous charge collector coupled to the spectrometer, and a MEMS electrometer. In some embodiments the charge collector may be a metal frit electrically coupled to the electrometer. The electrometer may include a comb drive actuator coupled to a moving shuttle supported on flexures.


Grant
Agency: National Science Foundation | Branch: | Program: SBIR | Phase: Phase I | Award Amount: 150.00K | Year: 2012

This Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase I project will support the development of a new airborne particle counter to allow rapid observations of ambient nanoparticle size and concentration. The device will be highly sensitive, simple to use, inexpensive, and easily deployed for remote, autonomous operation. The key component of the instrument is a new Micro-Electro-Mechanical-Systems (MEMS) sensor that will eliminate the need for expensive, bulky, condensational-growth-based techniques that require consumable working fluids and complex optical detectors. The new technology will largely eliminate the cost, size, weight, and operator-expertise constraints of currently available technologies. Phase I of this project will include development of mechanical designs and computational fluid dynamics models of the various key systems and construction and laboratory testing of prototypes of the aerosol sizer and MEMS sensor. Applications of the new technology include aerosol health effects studies, routine continuous monitoring of ambient ultrafine particle size distributions, studies of rapid aerosol evolution in power-plant and other exhaust plumes, creation of data sets for climate change models, drug development by pharmaceutical firms, and indoor air quality monitoring for silicon wafer processing, green building, and household applications. Broader impact/commercial potential of this project includes satisfying the need for increased spatial and temporal coverage of aerosol data while creating a measurement technique accessible to a more general group of users through its reduced cost and ease of use. Initial customers include air quality researchers at universities and within federal and state governments. As the technique is validated through peer-reviewed publications, the customer base will expand to air quality monitoring network administrators and wafer processing firms. As the device operation is proven in routine monitoring applications, its application will be extended to green-building and household indoor air-monitoring applications. Broader application of the device will serve as an educational tool for students and investigators leading to more widespread understanding of the processes that influence particle size and concentration in ambient, laboratory and industrial settings. Increased understanding of atmospheric aerosol processes will serve as important information for investigators in the areas of global climate change and aerosol health impacts. Industrial applications include remote operation for monitoring of clean room contaminants and evaluation of the dose-delivery of aerosolized pharmaceutical drugs.


Grant
Agency: NSF | Branch: Standard Grant | Program: | Phase: | Award Amount: 150.00K | Year: 2012

This Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase I project will support the development of a new airborne particle counter to allow rapid observations of ambient nanoparticle size and concentration. The device will be highly sensitive, simple to use, inexpensive, and easily deployed for remote, autonomous operation. The key component of the instrument is a new Micro-Electro-Mechanical-Systems (MEMS) sensor that will eliminate the need for expensive, bulky, condensational-growth-based techniques that require consumable working fluids and complex optical detectors. The new technology will largely eliminate the cost, size, weight, and operator-expertise constraints of currently available technologies. Phase I of this project will include development of mechanical designs and computational fluid dynamics models of the various key systems and construction and laboratory testing of prototypes of the aerosol sizer and MEMS sensor. Applications of the new technology include aerosol health effects studies, routine continuous monitoring of ambient ultrafine particle size distributions, studies of rapid aerosol evolution in power-plant and other exhaust plumes, creation of data sets for climate change models, drug development by pharmaceutical firms, and indoor air quality monitoring for silicon wafer processing, green building, and household applications.

Broader impact/commercial potential of this project includes satisfying the need for increased spatial and temporal coverage of aerosol data while creating a measurement technique accessible to a more general group of users through its reduced cost and ease of use. Initial customers include air quality researchers at universities and within federal and state governments. As the technique is validated through peer-reviewed publications, the customer base will expand to air quality monitoring network administrators and wafer processing firms. As the device operation is proven in routine monitoring applications, its application will be extended to green-building and household indoor air-monitoring applications. Broader application of the device will serve as an educational tool for students and investigators leading to more widespread understanding of the processes that influence particle size and concentration in ambient, laboratory and industrial settings. Increased understanding of atmospheric aerosol processes will serve as important information for investigators in the areas of global climate change and aerosol health impacts. Industrial applications include remote operation for monitoring of clean room contaminants and evaluation of the dose-delivery of aerosolized pharmaceutical drugs.


Grant
Agency: Department of Energy | Branch: | Program: SBIR | Phase: Phase I | Award Amount: 225.00K | Year: 2016

Emissions from energy production and other anthropogenic activities are altering the physical and chemical properties of the atmosphere and have been linked to climate change, environmental degradation, human health problems, and changes in clouds and aerosols. Modelers of climate change require observational constraints on the particle number size distribution and hygroscopic growth in order to predict the effect of changing aerosol properties on cloud concentration nucleus (CCN) activity. Observations are particularly needed in the Arctic, where climate change is likely accelerating the ice melt. Because particles smaller than 200 nm diameter often control the CCN number concentration, and since particle size plays such an important role in determining whether a particle acts as a CCN, nanoparticle size distribution measurements are a key component of the suite of instruments necessary to reveal how changes in particle size, concentration and composition impact CCN concentrations and cloud radiative properties. This SBIR project will develop a new, miniaturized nanoparticle size distribution measurement system suitable for deployment on UASs in order to make observations 1) more often, 2) in more locations, 3) at reduced cost compared to conventional aircraft, and 4) in difficult to access regions such as the Arctic. Specifically, the project will support the development of: A miniaturized differential mobility analyzer optimized for UAS deployment, a Micro-Electro-Mechanical-System (MEMS) based electrometer to replace the condensation particle counter (CPC) detector, and the hardware and software to enable measurements of aerosol size and concentration between 0.005 and 0.3 micrometer diameter. Phase I of the project will involve the redesign of an existing DMA/CPC system to reduce its size, weight and power consumption for deployment on the ScanEagle and other similarly sized UASs. A new differential mobility analyzer design will be miniaturized for the small size requirements of the UAS and tested for particle sizing performance. Commercial applications and other benefits include creating new, cost-effective tools to study aerosol forcing of climate, creation of data sets to validate climate change and urban air shed air quality models, measurements in health effects studies, flux measurements of aerosol species from ocean and land surfaces, studies of rapid aerosol evolution in power-plant plumes, monitoring of drug development by pharmaceutical firms, and providing sensors for indoor air quality monitoring for green buildings, industry and households. Brechtel Manufacturing Incorporated (BMI) proposes to develop a new air quality and climate change-relevant instrument to measure the size distribution of airborne nanoparticles. The device will be simple to use, inexpensive, easily deployable for remote operation on UASs, and offer sensitivity to a broad range of particles found in the air we breathe.


Grant
Agency: Department of Energy | Branch: | Program: SBIR | Phase: Phase II | Award Amount: 1.00M | Year: 2016

This Small Business Innovation Research Phase IIB project addresses the need for new widespread datasets to help reduce uncertainties in current predictions of climate change and to improve our understanding of the health impacts of air pollutants. The continued development and commercialization of new compact instruments for unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) will include modules to measure aerosol size distributions, total aerosol number concentration, black carbon concentrations, ambient winds and turbulence, and a chemical sampler to acquire filter samples for off-line analysis. A digital camera module will allow surface characterization during UAV flights. A coupled electrical-mobility and light-scattering-based aerosol number size distribution measurement system will provide rapid airborne observations over the 0.01 to 10 micrometer diameter range. A condensation particle counter that has already operated on-board UAVs will serve as the small particle detector. The optical particle sizer development will focus on completing the prototype and functional testing. Prototypes of other instruments completed during Phase II will be tested under various environmental conditions simulating UAV environments. The mobility classifier and optical particle counter will be tested against reference methods using traceable calibration particles. Prototypes of the turbulence and imaging systems will be constructed and tested a wind tunnel. During the Phase IIB project, build, test and quality assurance procedures will be developed so each device can be efficiently manufactured. Life cycle testing will be performed to identify design improvements that increase reliability. The overall development project will build upon eight years of existing UAV instrument development, in particular the deployment of aerosol instruments (particle counter, light absorption and filter-based chemical composition measurements) on-board a UAV over the Arctic in 2011 and 2015. The new technology will help mitigate measurement limitations in applications that include creation of new and expanded data sets for climate change and urban air quality models, aerosol health effects studies, flux measurements of aerosol species from ocean and land surfaces, studies of rapid aerosol evolution in power-plant plumes, and indoor air quality monitoring for green buildings, industry and households.

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