Science Inventory

A small, lightweight multipollutant sensor system for ground-mobile and aerial emission sampling from open area sources


Zhou, X., J. Aurell, W. Mitchell, D. Tabor, AND B. Gullett. A small, lightweight multipollutant sensor system for ground-mobile and aerial emission sampling from open area sources. ATMOSPHERIC ENVIRONMENT. Elsevier, AMSTERDAM, Netherlands, 154:31-41, (2017).


This study characterized the use of small scale sensors and samplers for air pollution emission characterization.


Characterizing highly dynamic, transient, and vertically lofted emissions from open area sources poses unique measurement challenges. This study developed and applied a multipollutant sensor and integrated sampler system for use on mobile applications including tethered balloons (aerostats) and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). The system is particularly applicable to open area sources, such as forest fires, due to its light weight (3.5 kg), compact size (6.75 L), and internal power supply. The sensor system, termed “Kolibri”, consists of sensors measuring CO2 and CO, and samplers for particulate matter (PM) and volatile organic compounds (VOCs). The Kolibri is controlled by a microcontroller which can record and transfer data in real time through a radio module. Selection of the sensors was based on laboratory testing for accuracy, response delay and recovery, cross-sensitivity, and precision. The Kolibri was compared against rack-mounted continuous emissions monitoring system (CEMs) and another mobile sampling instrument (the “Flyer”) that has been used in over ten open area pollutant sampling events. Our results showed that the time series of CO, CO2, and PM2.5 concentrations measured by the Kolibri agreed well with those from the CEMs and the Flyer, with a laboratory-tested percentage error of 4.9%, 3%, and 5.8%, respectively. The VOC emission factors obtained using the Kolibri were consistent with existing literature values that relate concentration to combustion efficiency. The potential effect of rotor downwash on particle sampling was investigated in an indoor laboratory and the preliminary results suggested that its influence is minimal. Field application of the Kolibri to sampling open detonation plumes indicated that the CO and CO2 sensors responded dynamically and their concentrations co-varied with emission transients. The Kolibri system can be applied by environmental monitoring agencies and industry to various challenging open area scenarios such as fires, lagoons, flares, and landfills.

Record Details:

Product Published Date: 04/06/2017
Record Last Revised: 06/02/2020
OMB Category: Other
Record ID: 335692