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

Lead Research Organisation: University of Cambridge
Department Name: Chemistry

Abstract

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 microgm 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.

Publications

10 25 50
 
Description To date, approximately 60% of the sensor network has been deployed, and the extended data capture period is just beginning. Comparisons with dispersion/traffic models is yet to start.

The sensors deployed have been highly successful, with the data to date showing striking pollution features including the diurnal cycle of the airport operations in all species measured.

The network deployment phase has been concluded successfully with over 20 billion separate measurements being made around Heathrow Airport.

In addition to the papers referenced with this award, there are multiple papers in preparation and in review which are covering the following aspects:

1) Direct derivation of CO/NOX emission factors for Heathrow Airport

2) Direct derivation of absolute CO/NOX emissions for Heathrow Airport using CO2 emissions

3) Source attribution studies (aircraft taxiing/LTO, ground support equipment etc) for Heathrow Airport

4) Determination of the role of runway usage on emissions from Heathrow airport

5) Comparison of ADMS-Airport model results with high density sensor network results

6) Auto-calibration methodologies for low cost air quality sensor networks.

The key 'bottom lines' are:

1) methodologies for quantifying near field pollutant emissions and separating them from long-range transport using sensor network data. In the case of Heathrow airport this has shown that the major sources of NO2 outside the airport perimeter in fact originate from traffic emissions from central London. Using these data for the validation of the ADMS model outputs for Heathrow airport, has led to the strong conclusion that the air quality impact in terms of NO2 of possible additional runways at Heathrow airport would be more than offset by improvements in emissions from the road traffic fleet.
Exploitation Route The project has, even at this early stage, clearly demonstrated the potency of the small sensor approach, and has attracted wide interest across the monitoring, legislative and health communities. This is being exploited though commercial development of the sensor network approach, and through research collaborations (U Berkeley, USA, and European) which have been funded external to NERC.

The specific findings on Heathrow airport have influenced the debate about the airport expansion on both political and societal levels.

The demonstration of low-cost sensors in environmental monitoring has led to significant commercial and political interest, with on the one hand working groups within the EU developing frameworks for the use of low-cost sensors in monitoring and compliance, and on the other with major commercial developments in the UK and internationally.
Sectors Creative Economy,Environment,Healthcare,Manufacturing, including Industrial Biotechology,Transport

 
Description The results are still in the early stages of being published, but have, in the forms of numerous invited talks at national and international conferences, provided a clear demonstration of the capability of low cost quality sensors for environmental monitoring with significant commercial takeup. The final findings of this research are in the process of being published, but the key points are that in a strategic sense the work has and continues to demonstrate the important role that low-cost air-quality sensors have in monitoring the environment and for inputting into policy and practical interventions for improvements in quality. In a tactical sense the research has fed directly into the debate about a third runway at Heathrow airport. The research has also led to a number of studies quantifying the impacts of air-quality and health.
Sector Environment,Manufacturing, including Industrial Biotechology,Transport,Other
Impact Types Societal,Economic,Policy & public services

 
Description CEN working party on the used of low cost air quality sensors
Geographic Reach Multiple continents/international 
Policy Influence Type Membership of a guideline committee
 
Description Directed International
Amount £300,000 (GBP)
Funding ID NE/N007115/1 
Organisation Natural Environment Research Council 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 01/2016 
End 01/2020
 
Description Directed International
Amount £400,000 (GBP)
Funding ID NE/N007085/1 
Organisation Natural Environment Research Council 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 01/2016 
End 01/2020
 
Description MRC
Amount £800,000 (GBP)
Funding ID MR/L019744/1 
Organisation Medical Research Council (MRC) 
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom
Start 01/2015 
End 01/2018
 
Description Standard grant
Amount £600,000 (GBP)
Funding ID NE/K005855/1 
Organisation Natural Environment Research Council 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 01/2014 
End 01/2017
 
Description Validating the CalFit Smartphone Sensor in Two Epidemiological Investigations
Amount £71,273 (GBP)
Organisation National Institutes of Health (NIH) 
Sector Public
Country United States
Start 09/2012 
End 08/2013
 
Description Validating the CalFit Smartphone Sensor in Two Epidemiological Investigations
Amount £71,273 (GBP)
Organisation National Institutes of Health (NIH) 
Sector Public
Country United States
Start  
 
Title Research data supporting [The use of networks of low cost air quality sensors to quantify air quality in urban settings] 
Description These data support the work on development and deployment of a network of low-cost sensors for improving our understanding of air quality. The project Sensor Network for Air Quality (SNAQ) was funded by NERC. The research was done at London Heathrow airport between 2012 and 2013. Data provided include raw sensor data and processed files used for the article. In addition, ADMS model data are provided for the comparison presented in the manuscript. The data are in csv, pdf and txt formats, accompanied with a ReadMe describing the content of the folders. 
Type Of Material Database/Collection of data 
Year Produced 2017 
Provided To Others? Yes  
 
Title Research data supporting [Use of networks of low cost air quality sensors to quantify air quality in urban settings] 
Description These data support the work on development and deployment of a network of low-cost sensors for improving our understanding of air quality. The project Sensor Network for Air Quality (SNAQ) was funded by NERC. The research was done at London Heathrow airport between 2012 and 2013. Data provided include raw sensor data and processed files used for the article. In addition, ADMS model data are provided for the comparison presented in the manuscript. The data are in csv, pdf and txt formats, accompanied with a ReadMe describing the content of the folders. 
Type Of Material Database/Collection of data 
Year Produced 2018 
Provided To Others? Yes  
 
Description BP Institute visit to Tsinghua University, Beijing 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact Meetings with Chinese policymakers about air quality and greenhouse gas emissions in China
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description CEN working group on air quality instrument standardisation 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact This working group is an international panel of experts who are brought together to evaluate the performance of low-cost air-quality sensors, and to determine the route by which they can be drawn into the formal certification and compliance process which is currently used for what are termed reference quality instruments.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description Keynote speaker, CASANZ conference, Melbourne, September 2015 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Keynote speaker on low cost air quality sensors
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
 
Description Media interviews on air pollution 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Provided media comment to local and national media channels on air quality issues including the variability of air pollution and its dependence on meteorology, regional differences in air quality.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015,2016,2017
 
Description Media presentation of main LHR results 
Form Of Engagement Activity A broadcast e.g. TV/radio/film/podcast (other than news/press)
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Media (as a channel to the public)
Results and Impact Conducted around 10 interviews on national media (radio, television) around the implications of results about the environmental impact of a proposed new runway at Heathrow airport. Conducted around additional 20 individual interviews with media/newspapers surrounding the subject.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015,2016,2017
 
Description Media: Bad air day? Low-cost pollution detectors to tackle air quality - See more at: http://www.cam.ac.uk/research/features/bad-air-day-low-cost-pollution-detectors-to-tackle-air-quality#sthash.uUPke5FE.dpuf 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Media film on University website
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
URL http://www.cam.ac.uk/research/features/bad-air-day-low-cost-pollution-detectors-to-tackle-air-qualit...
 
Description National tv news interview 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact Media TV interview for national news
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016