This Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase II project will enable Energetiq Technology, Inc. to develop and commercialize an advanced Open-Path FTIR Spectrometer (OPFTIR) instrument for monitoring of atmospheric gases over extended distances. The Phase II technical goals will be the optimization of a high-brightness infrared source and optical subsystem that will enable long path instrument capabilities. For current FTIR instruments the infrared light source is a thermal blackbody, limited to operating temperatures of approximately 1000 C. For OP-FTIR instruments the consequences of relying on such low-brightness light sources are (a) bulky and expensive IR optics; (b) expensive IR detectors; and (c) limited monitoring range ? typically less than a few hundred meters. The laser heated IR light source developed in Phase I has demonstrated greater than 2000C operation. Direct comparison with a standard GlobarTM source shows an improvement in signal amplitude of between 2 and 10 (depending on wavelength) and signal to noise measurements imply an improvement in detectability of from 1.5 to about 6.
The broader impacts of this research are in the area of environmental monitoring and potentially in Homeland Security applications. The cost and size of OP-FTIR instruments will be reduced and the range and sensitivity increased. With increased emphasis on monitoring total fluxes of atmospheric pollutants, including global warming gases such as CO2, OP-FTIR instruments will be even more widely used in the future.
Pollution of the atmosphere by industrial and agricultural activity is becoming an increasingly visible and public concern. Instruments that can detect and quantify pollutants over a large distance are required to monitor and track large-scale sites, such as oil refineries. Fourier Transform InfraRed spectroscopy (FTIR) is a nearly ideal technology for simultaneously detecting and quantifying nearly any polluting effulent. FTIR operates by detecting and spectrally analyzing the radiation from an infrared source at a distance. Molecules drifting through the beam absorb radiation in a spectral pattern specific to each molecule; analysis of the received spectrum at the FTIR spectrometer permits detection of each type and concentration of effluent that passes through the beam. Since the instrument can save not only the analyzed but also the raw spectra, it is possible to analyze data well after the fact -- if it turns out that some chemical not of interest yesterday, is discovered tomorrow to be a health risk, any spectra that have been recorded and saved may be analyzed for the presence and concentration of that chemical. Thus FTIR not only provides realtime warning of pollutants of current interest, but can also establish a historical database that can be analyzed at any time for newly discovered threats to health or environment. The objective of this program was to develop and test a higher-output IR source, which would facilitate FTIR measurement over longer ranges. We developed, demonstrated a source which would permit operation at roughly twice the distance of a conventional source, and field-tested the source at a large oil refinery. While we were not able to demonstrate a source with a commercially interesting lifetime, we proved that all other technical aspects of the problem can be solved.