Smog Blog

How clean really is the air in Cheltenham? The results are in!

A study of the air quality of an area of Cheltenham very near to the town centre has found it to be better than you might expect.

In June, Duncan Mounsor joined up with St Luke’s resident Bharat Gupta to sample the air in the area during the morning rush hour.

The pair used Duncan’s company’s ‘smogmobile’ a mobile monitoring laboratory built into an electrically-powered Nissan enV200, which produces no emissions itself.

The substances they were looking for were, in particular, nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and PM 10 which stand for ‘particulate matter less than 10 microns in diameter- it’s very fine dust and particles which can do particular damage to human lungs, and for the very smallest particles can get into the bloodstream. And the good news for residents in areas around St Luke’s, London Road, College Road and Bath Road is that these every damaging substances are present in relatively low levels, according to the monitoring.

Read the full story here.

Monitoring Methane on the go has never been easier with the MGGA

Per molecule, methane has a global warming potential 28 times greater than CO2 when considered over a 100-year time horizon, according to a 2014 report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). When considered over a shorter timeframe of 20 years, the GWP increases to 84 times that of CO2. Methane eventually breaks down in the atmosphere to yield CO2 and water vapour, both greenhouse gases in their own right.

Significant amounts of methane are emitted naturally by sources such as animals, bacteria, and forest fires. More recently, anthropogenic emissions from fracking, waste processing, and leaks in natural gas infrastructure have become another significant contributor to the global methane budget, and the current global average concentration of 1.8 ppm is 250% greater than the pre-industrial era average. With the ever increasing demand for natural gas, emissions from industrial sources are likely to increase further in the near future.

In light of methane’s significant contribution to climate change, measuring it accurately and detecting leaks at the source is more important than ever. A wide variety of equipment exists to measure methane, ranging from highly accurate laboratory instruments such as gas chromatographs, to portable, indicative electronic sensors. One of the major difficulties in monitoring methane emissions arises from the need for fast, highly precise measurements of methane in the field, for instance, in fence line monitoring. Simple semiconductor and infrared based detectors often lack the precision required for these measurements, but laboratory instruments such as GCs are too cumbersome to use on site.

ET is now able to offer a cutting edge, portable methane analyser with a precision of just 3 parts-per-billion to fill this niche – the Los Gatos Research Microportable Greenhouse Gas Analyser (LGR MGGA). The MGGA uses LGR’s patented Off-Axis ICOS detection method, which provides exceptional precision and selectivity with minimal maintenance, and no need for regular recalibrations. In addition to this the MGGA requires no ‘Carrier gases’ or Zero Air unlike FID based instruments. The MGGA, which also measures CO2 and H2O vapour, is built into a rugged, crushproof pelican case with the option of a shoulder strap for easy carrying. There is also an optional telescopic wand for Leak Detection Activities.

With an ultra-fast response, a weight of just 6kg, an internal battery, and the ability to control the instrument using nothing more than a tablet or mobile phone, the MGGA is an ideal tool for leak detection applications. Other applications include; Compliance Monitoring, Air Quality Studies & Soil and Vegetation Flux Studies.

In addition to the 6kg MGGA, ET can offer several alternative methane monitoring solutions from Los Gatos Research, including the popular 15kg Ultraportable Greenhouse Gas Analyser (UGGA), the rack-mounted ‘fast’ greenhouse gas analyser, and alternative configurations capable of measuring CO or NH3, in addition to CH4, CO2, and H2O. Analysers are also available to measure isotopologues of methane and carbon dioxide, for specialist research applications.

University of Brighton poster showing initial results from multi-species Opsis Ambient DOAS System supplied and installed by ET

This poster highlights measurements for the criteria pollutants NO2, O3 and SO2 as well as for HONO (nitrous acid) and Formaldehyde, gases fundamentally important in understanding complex atmospheric processes.

Benefits of the Opsis DOAS system include the ability to measure NO2 “directly” (rather than by calculation by NOx-NO) and also to be able to measure “difficult” gases such as HONO and Formaldehyde on a continuous, hassle-free basis.

As well as providing fast, accurate and inherently reliable measurements, Opsis DOAS requires the absolute bare minimum of operator involvement, a quick wipe of the transceiver and reflector quartz windows once a month is about it!

Coupled with very low running costs, reduced calibration requirements and all the benefits of long-path remote sensing, Opsis DOAS is just one example of the cutting-edge measurement technology available from ET.

You can view the poster here.

Methane Monitoring

The methane produced by approx 35 cows was measured with the Los Gatos Research UGGA (Greenhouse Gas Analyser)  in the smogmobile. Wind speed and direction was also measured and taken into account.

If you require methane monitoring on your farm / site contact ET on 01453 733200



Monitoring in the rainforest biome of the Eden Project

We are pleased to be helping young people get interested in science by providing a Graywolf AdvancedSense to the Institute for Research in Schools. IRIS have set up the sensor in the rainforest biome of the Eden Project, where it will gather CO, NO2, O3, and SO2 data to be analysed by budding scientists at IRIS’ partner schools.

 Note the custom enclosure and mesh to keep the insects out!

Graywolf AdvancedSense Pro TOX

Smogmobile Experiment: Diesel versus petrol and petrol-hybrid

The Smogmobile followed each vehicle at a distance of roughly 15 metres as they drove up and back down Cowcombe Hill, near ET’s office in Stroud. As these time series graphs clearly show, the levels of NO2­ measured whilst following the diesel Land Rover were significantly higher than those seen while following one of our hybrid Mitsubishi 4x4s. This goes to prove that changing our engineer fleet of cars to the hybrid Mitsubishis was certainly a good move!”

Comparison Graphs

The Smogmobile Measures Southamptons Air for the BBC on Inside Out South

ETs smogmobile is out in Southampton again helping measure the amount of NO2 in the air from rush hour traffic.

Even though it's a wet blustery day, when typically levels would be low, levels of 200 ug per cubic meter upwards were found which if they were consistantly reached for a period of an hour or so, they would breach the UK guidelines values for NO2. ET's Air Quality expert, Duncan Mounsor, explains how people living in more congested areas are more at risk.

High NO2 in Stroud

We took our Smogmobile to Gloucester last Friday to measure air pollution around the local schools and major roads. Interestingly, we saw much higher levels of NO2 on the drive back through Stroud than anywhere in Gloucester. An NO2 concentration of 219 µg/m3 was recorded at the junction between Bath Road and Rodborough Hill in Stroud. This was far higher than any of the NO2 measurements in Gloucester, which peaked at 143 µg/m3 on the A38/Cole Ave. junction, and supports our previous findings that air pollution in certain areas of Stroud can be worse than in Gloucester.

NO2 in Stroud

Professional NO, NO2 and NOx monitoring equipment from ET

ET can supply a wide range of monitoring equipment for the measurement of NO, NO2 and NOx. In our latest brochure you will find the some of our professional standard options.

NO, NO2 and NOx Brochure

NOx Brochure

NO2 and CH4 levels in Gloucester

We drove our Smogmobile to the Gloucester Nissan garage on Friday afternoon for some routine maintenance, and saw some interesting results along the way. Predictably the NO2 levels were notably higher than in Stroud, peaking with a 1-minute average of 137 ppb (262 µg/m3) on Barnwood road. We also noticed an unusual methane spike on Eastern avenue, peaking at 3.5 ppm, 75% higher than the background concentration. It’s unclear whether this methane was coming from nearby businesses, vehicle exhausts, or something else entirely, but it was certainly an intriguing observation!

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