Hand-Held Sensor for Remotely Mapping Carbon Dioxide Pollution Sources

EPA Contract Number: EPD10056
Title: Hand-Held Sensor for Remotely Mapping Carbon Dioxide Pollution Sources
Investigators: Roos, Peter A
Small Business: Bridger Photonics, Inc.
EPA Contact: Manager, SBIR Program
Phase: II
Project Period: May 1, 2010 through April 30, 2012
Project Amount: $225,000
RFA: Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) - Phase II (2010) Recipients Lists
Research Category: Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) , SBIR - Air Pollution


In 2007, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that carbon dioxide (CO2) is a pollutant under the federal Clean Air Act. The ruling allows the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to regulate CO2 emissions. Such regulation will entail monitoring a wide variety of pollution sources, including automobile exhaust systems, industrial emission sources, and carbon sequestration sites. With presently available technologies, EPA personnel will need to perform on-site scans of possible pollution locations by tediously sampling emitted gases with point-source gas-intake measurement devices. This makes it difficult or impossible for EPA personnel to identify or quantify critical CO2 pollution sources such as smokestacks/vents or unknown leaks in large search areas. No technology currently exists that can measure and pinpoint (to within a few meters) the location of elevated CO2 concentrations from a distance.

To address this need, Bridger Photonics, Inc. (Bridger) proposes to develop an inexpensive, rugged, and compact sensor with high-range resolution (meter-level) for on-site CO2 monitoring and spatial mapping from a distance. The proposed technology will enable EPA personnel simply to aim the sensor toward a distant industrial emission stack, for example, to measure the emitted CO2 concentration, the distance to the source, and the spatial extent of the plume. The sensor also could be used to spatially scan CO2 sequestration or industrial sites for leaks and could provide precise three-dimensional coordinate mappings of the emission source.

The proposed device is based on an innovative laser source and a differential detection technique developed during the Phase I effort that were shown to be ideally suited to detect CO2. The Phase II objectives are to: (1) optimize the performance of the laser system, (2) construct a compact optical receiver for detecting atmospheric light detection and ranging (LIDAR) returns, (3) demonstrate the system performance and capabilities for detecting artificial CO2 plumes in atmosphere, and (4) design a preliminary prototype device. Additionally, in the Phase II Commercialization and Verification Options, Bridger will construct, test, and verify a device prototype.

Bridger's propriety differential detection technique and rugged, compact laser will provide distinct competitive advantages in the CO2 sensor market. The recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling combined with an emerging international effort to reduce CO2 emissions established a growing market demand for including future carbon sequestration monitoring markets. Bridger estimates a potential $50 million U.S. market for this hand-held CO2 sensor.

Supplemental Keywords:

small business, SBIR, EPA, carbon dioxide, CO2, Clean Air Act, air pollution, CO2 monitoring, compact sensor, CO2 emissions, industrial emissions, laser, spatial mapping, LIDAR, point-source, carbon sequestration, hand-held sensor, carbon sequestration monitoring, CO2 sensor, remote sensing,

Progress and Final Reports:

  • Final Report

  • SBIR Phase I:

    Hand-Held Sensor for Remotely Mapping Carbon Dioxide Pollution Sources  | Final Report