New air pollution monitor can measure extremely low levels of NO2

A low-cost, graphene-based NO2 detector that measures air pollution levels in real-time has been created by researchers at the National Physical Laboratory (NPL). 

Graphene is highly sensitive to its environment which means that it is a useful material for air monitors. 

Ultralow concentrations of absorbed molecules induce a response to the electronic properties of the graphene, which can then be used to help visualise the air pollution levels in an urban area. 

The monitors are extremely sensitive and can measure levels of NO2 below 10 ppb, 1 ppb is a concentration equal to one droplet of ink in 2 Olympic size swimming pools.

Because of their low-cost, the sensors can be used in high quantities to generate an accurate picture of NO2 levels in the whole area. 

The data provided by the sensors can then be read by citizens on an app where they can check how much NO2 they might be exposed to on their planned route, city councils could also use this information to restrict and divert cars near schools and hospitals. 

Olga Kazakova, a researcher at NPL, said: ‘Understanding the problem is the first step to solving the problem. 

‘If you only monitor certain junctions or roads for NO2 pollution, you do not get an accurate picture of the environment.

‘In order to do this, a dense network must be set up to show the dynamically changing level of pollution through different times of day and year, so you can get to know the real level of critical exposure.’ 

In related news, AIRLIB has created a data collection platform that taps millions of automotive sensors to build high-resolution, real-time air pollution maps for cities. 

The company’s data engine captures minute by minute hyperlocal information so that cities, car manufacturers and individual people can take action against air pollution.

With 300 grid points per square mile, AIRLIB maps have 7000 times the spatial resolution and more than 60 times the temporal resolution of typical government air monitoring networks.

Photo Credit – Pixabay