High density sensor network system for air quality studies at Heathrow airport

Lead Research Organisation: University of Manchester
Department Name: Earth Atmospheric and Env Sciences


Overview: The overall scientific objective is to demonstrate the potential of low cost sensor network systems for characterising air quality in the urban environment at an appropriate granularity in order to understand the factors which influence pollutant distributions on local scales. The ultimate aim is develop and demonstrate a sensor network system* methodology which, when appropriately deployed, can contribute to scientific, economic, public policy and regulatory issues, crossing climate change, human (health) responses, as well as air quality on local and regional scales. As well as demonstrating a generic capability, the intention of this application is to address a number of specific scientific and ultimately legislative issues relevant to London Heathrow Airport. We therefore propose to deploy a high-density air quality sensor network system in and around London Heathrow Airport for an extended period. This will use state of the art low cost sensors for selected gases and for size speciated aerosols, providing an unprecedented data-set for use in a range of activities and outcomes. Air Quality and Human Health: The World Health Organisation (WHO) reported in 2005 on the effects of air quality on human health and identified the relative contributions to mortality from different components of air pollution. The strongest correlations with health were found to be particulate matter (PM), followed by O3 and NO2; for example it was estimated that a reduction in the PM10 annual mean exposure to 20 ug m-3 would lead to a reduction of 22,000 attributable deaths per year in Europe. The report also identified a substantial reduction in the quality of life for millions of citizens with pre-existing respiratory and/or cardiovascular disease. However, the magnitudes of health impacts per incremental increase in pollutant levels vary between studies, in part due to imperfect knowledge of human exposure particularly within urban locations and complex, multi-source transport infrastructures. The problem lends itself to a high density, long term network of air quality monitoring to refine our understanding of the drivers of the health impacts, and better understand potential mitigation options. London Heathrow Airport: There is also a strong political aspect. In 2004 the DfT established technical panels of experts to strengthen and update the assessment of air quality around Heathrow Airport in response to the Airport Transport White Paper 'The Future of Air Transport'. This identified key planning issues with respect to compliance with air quality standards. Deployment of a Sensor Network at London Heathrow Airport: Miniaturised low cost measurement methodologies are now available for measurements of a range of chemical species and aerosols at concentrations observed in the urban environment, while infrastructures also exist for GPS (positioning) and GPRS (mobile phone data transfer). The proposed primary sensor network would consist of a series of ~60 sensor units combining NO, NO2, CO, O3, CO2, hydrocarbons, SO2, size speciated aerosols, temperature and RH, allowing deployment along the (14 km) perimeter of Heathrow airport at intervals of a few 100 m. Additional sites would be co-located with static AURN sites in neighbouring Boroughs, and on a campaign basis mobile sensors would be deployed. The project also aims to bring complex mathematical techniques to provide innovative ways of calibrating the sensor network, and sophisticated methods for storing and displaying the data obtained. State of the art computer modelling of pollution levels around Heathrow would also be undertaken, with the aim of producing a more refined tool for assessing the potential impacts, e.g. of airport expansion. The intention is that the sensor network would be developed during the first year of the project, deployed during the second year, with major data analysis during the third year.


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Description The aspect of the work covered by this part of the consortium grant was to validate the use of low cost optical particle counters (OPCs) by comparing them to the highly technical and expensive research grade counterparts. The sensors were shown to compare extremely well with the 'gold standards' available on the market. This has lead to improvements in the sensors and a development of a commercial version of the OPC.

The work shows that using these low cost sensors does not compromise the integrity of the data quality.

In addition, analysis of the OPC data showed that the meteorology dominated the overall total aerosol number concentration at Heathrow, but perturbations to the means could be detected at various locations around the airport due to different sources.
Exploitation Route The work can be used by the private sector in the development of low cost sensors to give confidence that reducing the complexity, and hence cost of the sensors, does not impact on the data quality. Furthermore, these sensors would be ideal for educational and training purposes.
Sectors Aerospace, Defence and Marine,Agriculture, Food and Drink,Communities and Social Services/Policy,Construction,Digital/Communication/Information Technologies (including Software),Education,Environment,Manufacturing, including Industrial Biotechology,Transport

URL http://www.snaq.org/
Description The validation of the OPC units was used to guide the development of a commercial unit. The manufacturer, Alphasense UK (a UK based company), are in the final stages of production. The work from this grant lead to additional funds to validate the commercial units.
First Year Of Impact 2011
Sector Education,Manufacturing, including Industrial Biotechology,Retail
Impact Types Economic

Title Java based data analysis tool for SNAQ sensors 
Description The software allows a quick and easy analysis of the data from the SNAQ sensors. The tools allows the user to load individual files or average the data in a directory from multiple detectors. The tools allows for averaging specific periods or monitored species and to apply filtering to the data. This tool development was paid for by the grant and is an additional outcome as it was not part of the original grant. 
Type Of Technology Software 
Year Produced 2014 
Impact The possible use of this product with colleagues in Malaysia is being investigated.