Handheld Size-Resolved Particulate Monitor

Period of Performance: 03/22/2013 - 12/21/2013


Phase 1 SBIR

Recipient Firm

Physical Optics Corp.
1845 West 205th Street Array
Torrance, CA 90501
Principal Investigator


ABSTRACT: To address the Air Force need for a low-cost real-time particulate-loading sensor technology, Physical Optics Corporation (POC) proposes to develop a new Handheld Size-Resolved Particulate Monitor (HASPAM). This proposed technology is based on size separation of visible emissions particles in a micro-virtual impactor and real-time load measurement by integrated quartz crystal microbalance mass sensors. The innovative design of the multistage micro virtual impactor and the integration of quartz crystal microbalance sensors enable the HASPAM to measure size-selective mass concentration in real time. As a result, this technology offers the capability to provide data on the particulate size and mass of visible emissions in support of cost-effective air regulatory reporting, which directly addresses the Air Force objective. In Phase I, POC will demonstrate the feasibility of this technology by assembling a portable prototype using both custom-developed and commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) components and conducting proof-of-concept experiments at a POC laboratory. The experimental validation will include particle characterization of visible emissions. In Phase II, POC plans to build a portable and field- deployable handheld prototype with remote operational capability and test its performance in characterizing airborne particulates. BENEFIT: In addition to air quality monitoring near DoD stationary and mobile visible emissions sources, the HASPAM technology can be used, with minor modifications, by the DoD for real-time monitoring of airborne chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear, and high-yield explosive (CBRNE) events. The HASPAM can be incorporated by other government agencies for detecting and monitoring indoor/outdoor air quality and airborne threats in strategic buildings and locales. Major commercial applications of HASPAM include use by manufacturing, agricultural, and other industries that generate visible emissions and are required to comply with Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) air regulations. The HASPAM can also be used by environmental protection agencies to monitor the dispersion of harmful chemical and biological agents and dusts in the atmosphere. In situ measuring instruments are increasingly sought for the control and operation of chemical plants and coal power plants. The main advantages of the HASPAM over existing airborne particle analyzers include the simultaneous measurement of the size and mass of particles at a much lower cost. The proposed HASPAM, with minor modifications, will have other commercial applications, including terrorism-related chemical-agent monitoring and wastewater monitoring near chemical and biological waste disposal plants.