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Self-calibrating Balloon-Borne Methane Gas Sensor

Award Information

Department of Energy
Award ID:
Program Year/Program:
2010 / SBIR
Agency Tracking Number:
Solicitation Year:
Solicitation Topic Code:
30 b
Solicitation Number:
Small Business Information
Southwest Sciences, Inc.
NM Santa Fe, NM 87505-3993
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Woman-Owned: No
Minority-Owned: No
HUBZone-Owned: No
Phase 1
Fiscal Year: 2010
Title: Self-calibrating Balloon-Borne Methane Gas Sensor
Agency: DOE
Contract: DE-FG02-10ER85840
Award Amount: $100,000.00


The release of greenhouse gases to the atmosphere through the burning of fossil fuels and through other anthropogenic releases is considered to be the major cause of global warming, with potentially damaging economic and environmental effects worldwide. The sources and sinks of these gases and the interactions between the troposphere and stratosphere are needed to understand global warming and help devise strategies to minimize its effects. However, in situ measurements of greenhouse gases have been restricted to airplane or large balloon-gondola platforms, due to the size, weight, and power requirements of current instrumentation. We propose to overcome this limitation with a fully self-calibrating, low mass greenhouse gas sensor suitable for more frequent, widespread measurement campaigns using smaller, inexpensive balloonsondes. In this program, a lightweight, inexpensive, stand-alone methane sensor suitable for balloon sonde measurements will be developed. This sensor uses a novel self-calibration method to achieve the high precision of the much larger and expensive research instruments used on current airborne platforms, but with the ability to operate on a small meteorological balloon. The Phase II result of this program will be a sensor capable of measuring methane with high precision using small, inexpensive balloonsondes without the need for highly trained personnel. Commercial Benefits and Other Applications: In addition to research instruments for atmospheric measurements, low cost, portable gas sensors have applications in such areas as environmental monitoring, gas leak sensing of pipelines, fire detectors for commercial and military aircraft, and process control sensors for energy and chemical production industries

Principal Investigator:

Joel Silver

Business Contact:

Alan Stanton
Small Business Information at Submission:

Southwest Sciences, Inc.
1570 Pacheco Street Suite E-11 Santa Fe, NM 87505

EIN/Tax ID: 850340320
Number of Employees:
Woman-Owned: No
Minority-Owned: No
HUBZone-Owned: No