Author: AQMesh

AQMesh used by Guardian journalists in the UK to highlight air quality risks in London

Supporting the aims of Clean Air Day  today, 20th June 2019, the Guardian has published a short film demonstrating the changing levels of pollution that children are exposed to as they walk to school in London. The film can be viewed here.

The Guardian Cities team worked closely with their colleagues in multimedia to create a film showing real-time air quality data as a mother takes her young children to school in north London. The video features mother-of-two Natasa pushing a pram and walking her daughter along Marylebone Road, with a Particles Plus instrument attached to the pram and an AQMesh pod on her daughter’s backpack.

The most important air quality parameters are displayed on-screen during the walk, with data including PM10, PM2.5 and nitrogen dioxide (NO2). The film producers have cleverly integrated the European yearly mean limits for these parameters into the display, with readings changing from blue to red when they exceed the limit, (which for PM10 and NO2 was most of the time!).

Documentary producer Anetta Jones, said: “Air quality is a vitally important issue for the health and wellbeing of city dwellers, but the main pollution threats are invisible, so we hope that initiatives such as this will help residents and visitors to better understand the threat that they face.”

The monitoring equipment was supplied by Air Monitors Limited. Their David Green said: “We have recently installed large numbers of AQMesh pods all over London as part of the Breathe London project, and data from these pods will be displayed on the project website. However, video is an enormously popular medium, and it is really exciting to see what can be achieved when the latest technologies in multimedia and air quality monitoring combine.”

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Projet Borée : les micro-capteurs sont installés tunnel L2, Montolivet Sud

Suite à une phase d’évaluation et en raison de sa qualité de mesure, la solution AQMesh a été sélectionnée dans le cadre d’un projet d’asservissement de la ventilation d’un tunnel routier dans la ville de Marseille. Ce projet, porté par le réseau de surveillance de la qualité de l’air local AtmoSud et le CETU (Centre d’Etudes des Tunnels), a vu l’installation de 8 capteurs AQMesh en février 2019 pour le suivi des oxydes d’azotes NO et NO2.

Pour réduire la pollution de l’air aux sorties des tunnels et ainsi limiter l’exposition des riverains, AtmoSud et le CETU (Centre d’Etudes des Tunnels) testent un dispositif innovant basé sur l’activation de la ventilation par des micro-capteurs. Ces derniers, installés début février 2019 par AtmoSud, enregistrent les données sur le terrain pour une phase d’observation, avant de passer à la phase test de déclenchement de la ventilation.

L’implantation des 8 micro-capteurs a été décidée en concertation avec les acteurs

L’adaptation de la ventilation aux niveaux de pollution mesurés en tête de tunnel n’a jamais été mise en œuvre à ce jour et constitue donc une réelle innovation.

Comme pour tout projet innovant, les phases de concertation à chaque étape sont essentielles. Celle du choix de l’emplacement des micro-capteurs l’a été particulièrement.

AtmoSud a donc consulté et les différents acteurs : la DREAL PACA, l’association CAN L2, les services de la mairie de secteur du 11e/12e arrondissement de Marseille, le CETU (Centre d’Etudes des Tunnels), la métropole Aix-Marseille Provence et la Région Sud Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur.

Des micro-capteurs soigneusement étalonnés par AtmoSud

Le monoxyde d’azote (NO) et le dioxyde d’azote (NO2), marqueurs du trafic automobile sont les polluants qui vont être mesurés en 8 points. Avant de procéder à leur installation, AtmoSud s’est assuré de la fiabilité des données qui vont être recueillies, en testant les capteurs dans la station de mesure Kaddouz, à proximité de la L2. La phase d’observation va se dérouler sur une période de 3 à 6 mois.

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Thames network to monitor air pollution from cruise ships

AQMesh photo by PLA

A new network of air pollution monitors has been installed to record emissions from cruise ships docking in Greenwich.

The £80,000 network has been funded by the Port of London Authority (PLA) and installed in partnership with Breathe London and the borough councils covering both Greenwich and Tower Hamlets.

The eight monitoring stations, all located close to the Greenwich Ship Tier landing stage, will capture data around the clock with the raw data available via the websites of both the PLA and Breathe London. A full analysis of the results will be published in early 2020.

The monitors have been supplied by Gloucestershire-based Air Monitors Limited.

Robin Mortimer, PLA chief executive said: ‘The data these monitors collect will give us a comprehensive understanding of the impact that the cruise ships have on air quality when they are in town.

‘It’s crucial to have this information so that we can address the concerns that we know are very strongly held by local residents.’

The monitors are part of the PLA’s Air Quality Strategy, published in May 2018, the first to be produced by a UK port. It includes 25-year targets to halve levels of Nitrogen Oxides and Particular Matter from river-related sources, whilst growing use of the river for carrying both freight and passengers.

Measures already implemented include a programme of retrofitting older vessels with the latest environmentally-friendly technology.

In January, the Department for Transport (DfT) published the first-ever maritime strategy, which details their vision of a zero-emission shipping industry by 2050.

In it, the government said they are considering introducing targets to drive down emissions of GHGs and other air pollutants from UK shipping as ‘the volume of global trade increases.’

They also say they hope to have a group of hydrogen or ammonia powered domestic vessels in operation and at least one major ‘smart port’ in the UK to have all ship-side activity zero emission (including non-road mobile machinery like cranes).

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New modular options for AQMesh air quality monitoring systems

The AQMesh small sensor air quality monitoring system already offers flexibility of monitoring location – through independent power and communications – as well as high data quality and traceability. Now the platform is even more flexible offering up to 20 different data channels. The wide range of sensors, including gases such as NO2, particulate matter (PM1, PM2.5 and PM10) wind and noise can be specified, from a single sensor to a ‘fully loaded’ mini air quality monitoring station.

The small, post-mounted monitoring pod sends raw sensor output to the AQMesh server using the mobile phone network and readings can be accessed by a secure login or API connection. Cloud data management allows settings to be changed online and makes a high level of remote support possible – ideal for monitoring in distant or hard-to-reach locations. Recent developments for 2019 mean that AQMesh offers an increased level of modularity unrivalled by any other small-sensor air quality monitoring system.

The full range of sensors includes gases NO, NO2, O3, CO, SO2, H2S and CO2. Recent work has shown the value of measuring a targeted combination of gases for a given application. For example, H2S and SO2 is popular with the oil and gas industry and measurement of CO2 is valuable as an indicator of combustion to calculate an index. The new wind speed and direction module means local pollution source apportionment can be carried out. All AQMesh pods measure environmental conditions – temperature, atmospheric pressure and RH% – in the same compact unit.

New pods can be built to almost any configuration and modifications can be and are carried out to existing pods returned to the factory. Some modifications are also possible in the field, such as adding extra gas sensors.

Most AQMesh pods are now powered using solar power and the new AQMesh solar module allows the pod and solar pack to be mounted on the same post, using the standard clips supplied, with the power cable simply connected together to start monitoring. The updated solar pack comes as a complete package with a 20W panel, more efficient charging, an additional port for powering two pods, and is now a smart system with a Bluetooth mobile app for checking the output of the panel and running basic diagnostics. Battery and direct (9-24V DC) power options are available.

AQMeshData.net is the AQMesh server which performs secure data processing using carefully developed, unique correction algorithms which compensate for cross-gas effects and environmental factors. AQMesh algorithms are fixed by version and completely traceable, with no use of machine learning or artificial intelligence. Continual development of these algorithms, using datasets from around the world which compare AQMesh readings with co-located reference data, allows AQMesh to demonstrate outstanding, accurate and repeatable performance when co-located against certified reference or equivalent methods, in any part of the world.

AQMesh pods require very little ongoing maintenance, meaning the cost of ownership remains low. Sensor replacement is recommended every 2 years and the demonstrated data stability is very high. AQMesh users also benefit from dedicated, global support from its UK base, where it is designed, developed, manufactured and distributed, as well as a network of trained distributors.

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How clean is your local air?

AQMesh indoor and outdoor air quality monitorFew people know how clean the air is where they live, work, exercise or where their children go to school. Although air quality can be shown to vary significantly over short distances, air pollution is generally measured using a small number of large, expensive and high quality monitoring stations. The equipment used in these stations is very accurate and complies with measurement standards but they are expensive to buy and maintain, as well as difficult to position because of their size and infrastructure requirements.

With most cities having a single figure number of reference stations at best, many neighbourhoods do not have access to regular and localised air quality information. Historically, the best solution currently is to fill the gaps through modelling, which combines available air quality readings with other information such as emissions inventory.

Demand from communities for better local air quality information is coming at a time when development of smaller, cheaper air quality sensors can provide a solution to the challenge. ‘Small sensor’ air quality systems can provide highly localised pollution measurements, including nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and the key particulate matter measurement, PM2.5, but to provide meaningful measurements on which communities and authorities can make decisions, the information must show traceability to reference measurements.

Many initiatives around the world are aiming to show what can be done, with one of the most ambitious being the Breathe London project in London. 100 small sensor systems are being used, in combination with data from London’s reference network, modelling and readings taken by Google cars modified to carry high quality air monitoring equipment. This project aims to demonstrate how such a ‘hyper-local’ network can be managed, creating a template which can be rolled out to other cities worldwide.

Similarly, 50 AQMesh small sensor air quality monitoring units have been installed to monitor air quality in each of the 50 zip codes in Minneapolis – Saint Paul, USA. “This project is about understanding small-scale differences in air pollution in urban areas in order to minimise exposure to harmful air pollutants, particularly for vulnerable communities. The Assessing Urban Air Quality project will use new air monitoring sensors to broaden our knowledge about air quality in Minneapolis and St. Paul”, commented Monika Vadali, Ph.D, who is leading the project.

AQMesh has also been used to monitor air quality around industrial sites and next to nearby communities which may be affected. As the monitoring units can be positioned with a high degree of flexibility, such as mounting on a lamp post, it is possible to capture data at exactly the point required. With measurements usually every 15 minutes, combined with local wind speed and direction information, it is possible to build up a highly localised picture of likely pollution exposure and identification of pollution sources.

Whilst regulatory authorities are currently defining testing methodologies to help users choose small sensor air quality systems, the best small sensor systems provide a useful and practical tool to supplement existing monitoring networks and are in active use around the world, providing new information about local air quality for a range of applications.

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AQMesh thrives through another harsh Winter

AQMesh operating in cold snowy conditionsNorth Americans will be well aware of the particularly harsh weather in the early months of 2019, but AQMesh has taken conditions in its stride. The AQMesh stated operating range of -20°C to + 40°C is backed up by long-term operation across a wide range of climates.

AQMesh pods used by Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) to measure pollutant gases and particulate matter, such as NO2 and PM2.5 , installed on streetlights around Minneapolis St. Paul have seen temperatures as low as -25.4°C (-13.7°F) and continue to run smoothly.

Monika Vadali, leading the MPCA project, commented “We are quite impressed with the temperatures we have seen this winter”. However, when asked for a photo of the pods, she said “I can’t get to any of the pods as we have had so much snow and cold that there is 5-6ft of snow around some of the poles, making access difficult.” Temperatures recorded elsewhere have not been so low this year but AQMesh pods have been installed over previous winter in Sweden, Finland, Canada and central Europe, with temperatures regularly dropping below -20°C.

Despite such harsh weather conditions, the AQMesh pods have continued to monitor and communicate data to the AQMesh server, where it is securely accessed by users. The hardware design has been refined to ensure the equipment has the resilience to survive, with minimal maintenance, for years. The initial concept was for the pod to measure pollutant gases, particularly NO2, for two years on a single lithium battery. Although many users now run shorter projects or choose solar or DC power sources, the principle – and challenge – is unchanged.

In addition to its physical design, data processing on the AQMesh server includes carefully developed correction algorithms which compensate for extreme conditions. Remote diagnostics also identify unexpected patterns in sensor output, which may affect confidence in the data, which is then flagged.

At the same time as the AQMesh pods were under several feet of snow in Minnesota, pods in the southern hemisphere have been regularly operating at temperatures in excess of 30°C, hitting 44.7°C  in South Africa and 46.2°C in Australia.

AQMesh pods have been deployed long-term (many pods are in their sixth year of deployment around the world) and as temperatures rise across some of the hottest locations where pods are deployed – Kurdistan, Pakistan, Myanmar, Arizona (USA), Ghana – the latest generation of sensors and processing algorithm will continue to provide reliable and traceable air quality measurements in locations where other monitoring equipment cannot readily be deployed.

In the southern regions of the USA, with very hot temperatures and varying levels of humidity, AQMesh pods maintained high precision and accuracy against co-located certified reference equipment, with a correlation R2 of 0.92 for ozone, compared to collated FEM. Many parts of the world where AQMesh operates record relative humidity (RH%) over 90%, often on a regular or sustained basis.

AQMesh also stands up to high winds and extreme rainfall and is now available with an optional wind speed and direction sensor to complement its extensive range of measurable parameters. The meteorological data gathered by this sensor can help distinguish between local and regional sources of pollution.

AQMesh maintains high accuracy in cold weather conditions

Read more about the MPCA project.

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AQMesh used in smart cities to share air quality data with the public

AQMesh used in smart city networks to share air quality information with the publicIn an inter-connected world, air quality is increasingly becoming another measurement made available to the public, but how reliable is the data?

Common air pollutants such as NO2 and PM2.5 mix at different rates depending on their source and local weather conditions, particularly wind speed, leaving large local variations in pollution levels. Urban air quality has traditionally been managed by authorities using a combination of large, compliance standard (reference) measurement stations and modelling based on an emissions inventory. Research has shown that increasing the number of measurement points improves the spatial resolution of urban air quality models.

Small-sensor air quality monitoring technology offers the possibility of more local measurements, and its emergence coincides with the appetite from Internet of Things (IoT) developers to map air quality across cities in real-time and communicate this information to the city inhabitants in various ways. This is leading to a growing number of smart city projects using a range of monitoring devices, but understanding the air quality information gathered and sharing it with the public can still be complicated.

Many air quality sensors that are small, cheap and have low power consumption are often very limited by the influence of fluctuating temperatures and cross-gas effects and do not produce good air quality readings. It is therefore beneficial to use a small-sensor air quality monitoring system that incorporates processing, correction and a QA/QC process in order to offer meaningful readings. Environmental authorities, including the US EPA, have developed air quality indices (AQI) and other tools to communicate local air quality to the public. These authorities are looking at how to modify that approach to provide more localised information from small sensor-sensor systems, such as air quality in a neighbourhood – or even a street – rather than a whole section of a city.

AQMesh, a small-sensor air quality monitoring system, is being used in a variety of successful smart city projects which have a range of objectives, but with a common goal of informing the public about the air quality and pollution levels in the local area where they live and work.

‘Breathe London’ was launched in February, with a sophisticated network of air quality monitors to help investigate and improve London’s toxic air. A range of fixed and mobile sensors will be used to build up a real-time, hyperlocal image of London’s air quality. The technology company Air Monitors designed and installed the network of AQMesh air quality monitoring pods, as well as the air quality analysers that were specially adapted to operate inside Google Street View cars.

In Minneapolis, Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) has deployed 50 AQMesh pods across 50 zip code areas in order improve understanding of the small-scale differences in air pollution within urban areas.

Similarly in Newcastle, 55 AQMesh pods, supplied and supported by Air Monitors, form part of a network of over 600 sensors managed by the UK’s first Urban Observatory, which aims to provide Newcastle’s citizens with a digital view of how cities work.

These smart cities demonstrate that meaningful and reliable air quality information can be shared with the public when networks are deployed effectively and supported by air quality professionals who understand the capabilities – and limitations – of small-sensor technology and how the local environment affects air quality readings.

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AQMesh measures influence of cruise ship emissions on local air quality

AQMesh and Olfasense at Port of KielAQMesh has been used in a project at the Port of Kiel, Germany, to measure emissions of nitrous oxides (NOx) and fine particulate matter (PM) around its cruise ship terminal.

This year the port attracted 166 visits by 33 different cruise ships, bringing a record breaking 600,000 visitors into the city. Emissions from the cruise ship terminal and its impact on the local air quality has been in discussion for some time, as the city’s references stations indicate that nitrogen dioxide (NO2) levels regularly exceed the World Health Organisation’s annual mean limit of 40μg/m3.

The joint project with Eurofins and Olfasense, who combined AQMesh air quality monitors with the Ortelium dynamic atlas system, measured and studied levels of NO2 and PM at the cruise ship terminal over several months.

AQMesh pods, supplied by its German distributor Envilyse, measured NO, NO2, O3 alongside PM1, PM2.5 and PM10, as well as relative humidity, temperature and atmospheric pressure. After being co-located with passive samplers at the installation site to provide the greatest degree of accuracy, real time sensor data from the AQMesh pods was fed into Ortelium.

The Ortelium atlas allowed measurements from the AQMesh pod to be visualised in real time and, combined with meteorological data feeds, showed how the emission levels changed during arrival, berthing and departure of the cruise ships.

Data analysis from this study concluded the cruise ships could not be attributed to high levels of NO2. This is similar outcome to a study carried out at a UK airport, which concluded that local traffic was in fact more of an issue than the airport activity.

Plumes from shipping are notoriously difficult to detect and analyse from land, but AQMesh now has a carbon dioxide (CO2) sensor which allows a combustion plume to be detected from elevated CO2 levels. Pollutants can then be evaluated in this context.

AQMesh is in use at a variety of harbours and ports around the world including the UK, Italy, Norway, Netherlands, Germany and Vietnam. The pods can now monitor up to 6 gases using the latest generation of sensors, as well as PM1, PM2.5, PM10 and total particle count (TPC) with a light-scattering optical particle counter.

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Latest AQMesh co-location studies show capability of small sensor systems

AQMesh air quality monitor and new solar panel power optionRecent co-location comparison trials against certified reference equipment continue to prove AQMesh performance and reliability for localised air quality monitoring.

Trials in the USA, UK and Western Europe this year have delivered high correlation coefficients (R2 values) for key pollutants such as nitrogen dioxide (NO2), ozone (O3) and fine particulate matter (PM2.5). An R2 value of 0.92 against reference for O3 was achieved in Southern USA over the Summer, as well as an R2 value of 0.94 against reference for NO2 in Northern USA during the cold season.

Co-location trials for AQMesh and field equivalent methods have been taking place globally for several years, with the results published on the AQMesh website, demonstrating how performance and accuracy continues to improve with each new version of the product. A number of independent studies have also been carried out, verifying the AQMesh system’s capability.

AQMesh is a small sensor air quality monitoring system for measuring pollutant gases and particles in ambient air. It is a flexible, quick to install and easy to use air quality monitor that can deliver localised, real-time readings, aiming to improve the spatial resolution, scope and accuracy of gathering air quality data.

Its range of wireless power options includes a recently improved smart solar panel, which is now larger than the previous and has a more efficient charge, allowing for year-round operation for standard gas and particulate AQMesh pods across Western Europe and regions on a similar latitude.

AQMesh pods can now monitor up to 6 gases out of NO, NO2, NOx, O3, CO, SO2, CO2 and H2S using the latest generation of sensors, as well as PM1, PM2.5, PM10 and total particle count (TPC) with a light-scattering optical particle counter. In addition to pollutants, AQMesh can measure noise, relative humidity, pod temperature and atmospheric pressure, all within a single compact unit. Data is completely secure on the AQMesh cloud server, only accessible by a secure login, which allows the user to manage their pods, view customisable graphical data, and download the data for further analysis.

AQMesh is currently in use throughout the world in a variety of air quality monitoring applications and projects, including smart city networks, indoor-outdoor air quality management, employee health and safety, traffic pollution mitigation studies and air quality modelling. Recent case studies show it forming part of a major ‘hyperlocal’ street-by-street monitoring system throughout London (UK), as well as being used in a similar project across 50 zip code areas in Minnesota (USA).

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Urban Observatory monitors Newcastle with new generation of environmental sensors

AQMesh air quality monitor being installed in NewcastleThe UK’s first Urban Observatory, led by Newcastle University, has been designed to provide a digital view of how cities work. AQMesh air quality monitoring equipment is being deployed across Newcastle and Gateshead in conjunction with other instruments for monitoring parameters such as air and water quality, noise, weather, energy use, traffic and even tweets.

Forming part of a network of over 600 sensors, the Urban Observatory has already collected over half a billion data points and the information is now starting to shed light on the way different systems interact across the city and provide a baseline against which future cities can be developed and managed.

To date Air Monitors, UK AQMesh distributor, has supplied 55 AQMesh pods and 6 conventional air quality monitoring stations. The conventional stations employ standard reference method instruments to measure key air quality parameters such as Nitrogen Dioxide, Ozone, Carbon Monoxide and Particulates. The AQMesh pods monitor similar parameters, but are smaller, solar-powered, wireless, web-enabled devices that can be quickly and easily located in almost any location.

Commenting on Air Monitors’ involvement in the Urban Observatory project, Managing Director Jim Mills says: “The conventional stations are delivering precise, accurate data, and the AQMesh pods are providing the portability and flexibility to monitor air quality accurately and reliably in the locations of greatest interest.”

“Perhaps the most interesting aspect of this project is its ability to engage with the community, providing detailed local air quality data so that both authorities and citizens can make informed decisions on how to reduce exposure to air pollution. Looking forward, it is clear that work in Newcastle will serve as a model for other cities around the world to follow.”

The National Observatories facility was established in 2017 with the Newcastle Urban Observatory as the founding member, supported by £8.5 million investment from EPSRC (Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council). The guiding principles are to be technology agnostic and vendor non-exclusive, open by default and transparent by design whilst developing a valued, long-term, sustainable platform. In order for the data to be useful to better understand cities and to facilitate evidence based decision-making across a range of scales and sectors, the data needs to be robust and reliable with known data quality that can be validated.

The AQMesh pods are also being used as part of the ‘Sense My Street’ tool box which enables local communities to deploy sensors and locate them on the streets, collecting evidence to inform or even change their communities.

Phil James, who co-leads the Urban Observatory research, explains: “Cities are complex environments and if we want to develop them sustainably we have to understand how everything interacts.

“By compiling observations and comparing the data, for the first time we are now able to make more informed decisions about designing our cities to work better for people and the environment. Through the Sense my Street project, we are able to give communities the power to gather data relevant to issues that are important to them at a very local scale.”

All of the data is freely available at Newcastle University’s website: www.urbanobservatory.ac.uk, and is being used by researchers, local authorities, regulators, developers, town planners, businesses and members of the public.

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