Black Carbon and UV Particulate Matter, Multi-gas, Multi-pollutant Sensor Platform

EPA Contract Number: 68HERC20C0049
Title: Black Carbon and UV Particulate Matter, Multi-gas, Multi-pollutant Sensor Platform
Investigators: Blair, Jeffrey
Small Business: MicroAeth Corporation dba AethLabs
EPA Contact: Richards, April
Phase: II
Project Period: June 1, 2020 through May 31, 2022
Project Amount: $299,919
RFA: Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) - Phase II (2020) Recipients Lists
Research Category: Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) , SBIR - Air , SBIR - Air Monitoring and Remote Sensing


As wildfires are increasing in prevalence and intensity there is a need for miniaturized, lower cost, and easily portable air sensor systems that provide accurate information to air Quality and public health managers, communities, and researchers, so that the public can be protected and timely decisions can be made. Fixed site measurement stations are large and expensive. More dense networks of small low-cost sensors are needed to better protect public health.

PM2.5 is an accepted standard for particulate matter (PM) measurements, but PM2.5 mass measurements alone cannot identify sources in-situ. In near-source biomass and wildfire impacted regions, Black Carbon and Organic Carbon are a significant portion of PM and are major contributors to the PM2.5 burden in the air. Black Carbon has been identified as one of the key constituents of PM2.5 and likely a causal agent of respiratory and cardiovascular disease.

Diesel particulate matter, a known carcinogen and a significant source in urban areas, impacts health around the world. Low-cost PM sensors usealight scattering measurement technique which cannot detect particles below 0.5-1.0 micron (0.3 micron at best) in diameter and thus do not detect much of the emissions from fresh diesel combustion. This means that low-cost sensors and networks are likely not collecting any data related to fresh DPM and for PM in these small size fractions. Detecting toxic sub-micron diesel particulate matte r and fine/ ultra-fine particles from other sources is important in understanding health and providing accurate mass concentration data. Combining low cost PM sensors with AethLabs microAeth® Aethalometer® technology and advanced multi-sensor calibration algorithms using artificial intelligence techniques has significant advantages over the existing sensor platforms that are currently available.

We have developed a proof-of-concept prototype sensor platform with sensor devices that integrate an optical particle counter with PM1, PM2.5, PM10 measurements. Black Carbon and CO2 sensors. The eventual commercialized device and the supporting cloud based data system has applications not just in wildland fire applications 1but in emerging smart city and community monitoring applications.

We estimate an opportunity in the United States for state and local agency sensor monitoring networks of between 20,000 and 350,000 sensors. Assuming that the USA might account for ½ of the total market, we believe that the global addressable market is between 60,000 and 1,060,000 sensors valued between $30MM to $530MM depending on the final configuration and price of the final commercialized device.

SBIR Phase I:

Black Carbon and UV Particulate Matter, Multi-gas, Multi-pollutantSensor Platform  | Final Report