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EU Project's Low-Cost Sensors to Monitor Air Quality

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Munster Technological University (Ireland) has launched a €7 million, EU-funded research project called PASSEPARTOUT at its Centre for Advanced Photonics and Process Analysis (CAPPA). The project aims to develop low-cost optical sensors to be applied to air-quality monitoring, by creating a three-level optical gas analyzer network to operate in urban environments. The project will make use of photoacoustic and photothermal spectroscopy to create compact photonic sensors that will be mounted on buildings, vehicles, and drones for real-time air-quality monitoring. 

PASSEPARTOUT will specifically develop and deploy miniature, hyperspectral optical-based sensors based on QEPAS (quartz-enhanced photoacoustic spectroscopy) and PTI (photo-thermal interferometry). PASSEPARTOUT optical sensors operate in the mid-infrared or near-infrared spectral range, enabling calibration-free methodologies.

Air pollution in terms of toxic gas molecules and particulate matter is a major cause of morbidity and premature mortality, resulting in an estimated 4.2 million deaths per year, CAPPA said in a press release. PASSEPARTOUT will take a number of technologies performing at high technological readiness levels and concentrate on miniaturizing and combining them into a portable analyzer capable of measuring pollutants including carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide, methane, and particulate matter. The project supports the development of three distinct types of analyzers: stationary, mobile, and airborne, which will be deployed in field trials with community involvement.

Upon being processed, data that the analyzers develop will be presented in an app that will be available to the public.

Coordinated by MTU researcher and senior lecturer Liam O’Faolain, the project has attracted more than €800,000 in funding, bringing the total amount of funding secured by CAPPA to more than €11 million in the past five years.

The PASSEPARTOUT project received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation program, within the context of the Photonics Public Private Partnership.

The project was officially launched by MTU President Maggie Cusack at the project’s kickoff meeting Jan. 18.

Photonics Spectra
May 2021
GLOSSARY
hyperspectral imaging
Methods for identifying and mapping materials through spectroscopic remote sensing. Also called imaging spectroscopy; ultraspectral imaging.
BusinessEuropean UnionspectroscopyMunster Technological UniversityCAPPACentre for Advanced Photonics and Process AnalysisMTUairair qualityair quality analysisair quality monitoringair quality sensorEuropehyperspectral imagingQEPASPTIResearch & Technologylight speed

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