Hand-Held Sensor for Remotely Mapping Carbon Dioxide Pollution Sources

EPA Contract Number: EPD09015
Title: Hand-Held Sensor for Remotely Mapping Carbon Dioxide Pollution Sources
Investigators: Roos, Peter A
Small Business: Bridger Photonics, Inc.
EPA Contact: Richards, April
Phase: I
Project Period: February 1, 2009 through July 31, 2009
Project Amount: $70,000
RFA: Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) - Phase I (2009) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: SBIR - Air Pollution , Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR)


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.  Current CO2 stand-off measurement instruments, such as laser remote sensors, do not provide spatial identification or mapping of the pollution source.  This makes it difficult or impossible for EPA personnel to identify or quantify CO2 pollution sources and plumes, such as those from a smokestack or vent.  There currently exists no technology that can measure and pinpoint (to within a meter) the location of elevated CO2 concentrations from a distance.

To address this need, Bridger Photonics, Inc. proposes developing an inexpensive, rugged, and hand-held sensor with high range resolution for on-site CO2 monitoring and spatial mapping from a distance.  The proposed effort will enable EPA personnel to, for instance, simply aim the sensor toward a distant industrial emission stack 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 3-dimensional coordinate mapping of the emission source.

The proposed device will be based on an innovative laser source that possesses the ideal characteristics for sensitively probing CO2 plumes with high spatial resolution.  Phase I objectives are to:  (1) demonstrate laser emission to the ideal wavelength for mid-range CO2 sensing, (2) demonstrate range-resolved CO2 measurements, and (3) design and model the sensor to address the targeted market.  The predictive device performance includes:  (1) meter-level spatial resolution, (2) the ability to measure a 1-m CO2 plume with less than double the atmospheric concentration at a 100-m distance, and (3) the ability to measure typical industrial CO2 emissions from stand-off distances of at least 500 meters.

These capabilities, along with the compact, rugged design, will provide Bridger Photonics 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 establishes a growing market demand for this type of hand-held CO2 sensor.  Bridger Photonics estimates a potential $59 million U.S. market for this device, not including predicted carbon sequestration monitoring markets.  The device will integrate seamlessly with Bridger Photonics’ other laser-based sensor, which will uncover illicit methamphetamine labs.

Supplemental Keywords:

small business, SBIR, EPA, carbon dioxide measurement, CO2 measurement, carbon dioxide monitoring, CO2 monitoring, Clean Air Act, emissions, pollution source, remote sensing, remote mapping, automobile exhaust, industrial emissions, carbon sequestration, spatial mapping, carbon dioxide sensor, CO2 sensor, hand-held sensor, laser-based sensor, measurement and monitoring,

Progress and Final Reports:

  • Final Report
  • SBIR Phase II:

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