Lidar-based high resolution 3D imager and remote gas sensor: a new paradigm for terrestrial environmental monitoring

Period of Performance: 04/06/2015 - 04/05/2017

$1.5MM

Phase 2 SBIR

Recipient Firm

Bridger Photonics, Inc.
2310 University Way, Bldg. 4-4 Array
Bozeman, MT 59715
Firm POC
Principal Investigator

Abstract

Improved measurement technologies are needed to better understand the carbon cycle and its roll in climate change. For instance, the arctic and sub-arctic tundra represents an enormous and complex source and sink of greenhouse gases. Rising global temperatures could significantly alter the balance of this critical carbon cycle component. Yet improved scientific instruments are needed to more fully understand and better predict the potential consequences of changes in this environment. Specifically, instruments do not currently exist to simultaneously register 3D topographical information with gas concentration over the widespread spatial and temporal domains needed to understand the tundra dynamics. More generally, this type of 3D imaging technology is needed for a variety of important endeavors including: detecting leaks in oil and gas production and distribution infrastructure, properly recording industrial carbon emissions, and verifying the efficacy of carbon sequestration efforts. The proposed effort addresses these measurement needs by developing a 3D imageing gas sensor, and data analysis approaches to quantify terrestrial system dynamics and functioning. The sensor and algoriths will be used during this effort to advance terrestrial environmental monitoring at the NGEE-Arctic site. The sensor combines existing 3D imaging lidar technology with simultaneous and co-aligned CO2 and water vapor concentration measurements. The data acquisition networks and data fusion algorithms will be used to co-characterize lidar datasets with other subsurface and surface-based geophysical point measurements to greatly improve understanding of controls on greenhouse gas evolution. During the phase I effort, a prototype sensor was constructed, and the feasibility of the measurement approach was verified. Additionally, data fusion and data mining algorithms were developed to detect environmental hot spots and moments that will be key for understanding terrestrial environmental dynamics. If a Phase II contract is awarded, a compact and rugged sensor package will be developed, and adapted for use from a UAV platform to greatly increase the spatiotemporal coverage for terrestrial environmental monitoring. A groundbased version of the sensor will be field tested at the NGEE-Arctic site, and the resulting datasets will be used to study sub-arctic tundra ecosystem dynamics. In addition to the sensors utility for scientific ecosystem monitoring, this technology is expected to be useful reduce waste and improve efficiency in the energy industry. Potential applications include: methane leak detection from pipelines, well platforms, and holding tanks for the petroleum industry, CO2 monitoring and verification for industrial emissions and carbon sequestration efforts, biomass density and carbon flux estimations in managed ecosystems for agriculture and timber industries, and monitoring and maintenance of critical infrastructure for transportation and geotechnical industries.