SBIR Phase I: Compact analyzer for trace ammonia in air

Award Information
National Science Foundation
Award Year:
Phase I
Agency Tracking Number:
Solicitation Year:
Solicitation Topic Code:
Solicitation Number:
Small Business Information
Mesa Photonics, LLC
1550 Pacheco St, Santa Fe, NM, 87505-3914
Hubzone Owned:
Minority Owned:
Woman Owned:
Principal Investigator:
David Bomse
(505) 216-5015
Business Contact:
David Bomse
(505) 216-5015
Research Institution:

This Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase I project will lead to a highly miniaturized trace gas analyzers that are useful for emissions monitoring and industrial safety application. The planned work is motivated by a need to detect ammonia in the air. Once released into the air, ammonia forms fine particles can impact the climate by affecting cloud formation, and are linked to cardiac and respiratory illness. Anticipated ammonia detection limits are between 1 and 10 parts per billion. The proposed technology will, if successful, lead to commercial ammonia analyzers that will fit into a shirt pocket. The planned six-month-duration Phase I project will identify the technical factors limiting measurement sensitivity, determine the changes in analyzer performance with changing sample pressure, and extrapolate results for ammonia to other gases of environmental, industrial, and biomedical importance. The Phase I project will end with a head-to-head comparison between the benchtop analyzer built during the project and a well-calibrated, open-path ammonia analyzer that has been deployed successfully for rapid measurements of ammonia in air. The broader impact/commercial potential of this project is the development of new rapid, low cost, and inexpensive technology for analyzing trace gases in environmental monitoring, industrial workplace safety, and, perhaps, medical diagnostics through analysis of exhaled breath. The technology is part of the $250 to $350 million dollar a year market for gas sensors, detectors, and analyzers. Measurements of ammonia emissions and trace concentrations in air will have significant impact on atmospheric science and public health. It has been suggested that the most economical way to reduce the amount of fine particles in air over the eastern United States, is to control ammonia emissions instead of trying to limit oxides of nitrogen and sulfur. But, highly-portable, reasonably-priced ammonia analyzers that are needed to provide supporting data and to monitor ammonia distributions are not yet commercially available. The planned technology can also be applied to detection of compounds including carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, hydrogen sulfide, methane, hydrogen chloride, nitric oxide, and ethylene. In the case of hydrogen sulfide detection for the petrochemical industry, the new technology offers significant advantages over existing methods for hydrogen sulfide monitoring at wellheads and in refineries.

* information listed above is at the time of submission.

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