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Researchers Conduct Next Generation Emission Measurement Demonstration Project to Provide Innovative Approaches to Protecting Air Quality

Background

Spod fenceline sensor systemSpod fenceline sensor systemIndustrial facilities, regulators and nearby communities have a mutual interest in the effective detection of fugitive emissions of volatile organic and odiferous compounds.   If unanticipated emissions that require mitigation can be found and fixed in a timely manner, benefits such as lower air shed impacts, safer working environments, cost savings through reduced project loss, and improved community relations can be realized.

Under its Next Generation Emission Measurement (NGEM) program, EPA is working to develop new sensor and modeling approaches that can assist facilities in detection and mitigation of fugitive air pollution sources from facility leaks and operation malfunctions.    

To help advance NGEM research, EPA and the Louisville Metro Air Pollution Control District (LMAPCD) are working together on a research project to demonstrate NGEM approaches near facilities in the Rubbertown industrial district of Louisville, KY.

The area has faced challenges related to the control of ozone and exposure of pollutants to local communities.  LMAPCD has made extensive efforts to control air toxics, including ozone precursors, in the area.  Despite these efforts, fugitive emissions still remain a source of concern from both an air quality agency and a community perspective.  These potential air quality challenges, and the close physical proximity of industrial sources ideal for studying NGEM technologies made the Rubbertown industrial district an ideal location for this research.  

Approach

The project team will conduct a year-long demonstration field study of select NGEM technology prototypes developed by EPA researchers. The study will start in in August 2017.

The project is a measurement study with goals to document NGEM system performance and advance NGEM methods while producing source emission case study data useful for Louisville’s air quality managers with LMAPCD and industrial facilities  

The research supports the community, City of Louisville and industry by furthering development of innovative and cost effective approaches to improve air quality monitoring that protects public health. Scientists will measure volatile organic compounds(VOCs) and air toxics using a network of SPod fenceline sensor systems, field-packed gas chromatographs (GC’s), and open-path spectroscopic equipment. They will also perform GMAP OTM 33 mobile measurements using vehicles equipped with time-resolved sensors, driven downwind in relatively close proximity to potential sources.

Science questions include:

  • Can emerging NGEM approaches cost effectively augment current industry work practices to help identify and reduce emissions?
  • Can emerging NGEM approaches cost effectively augment current industry work practices to document the absence of such emissions? 
  • Can NGEM and industry information systems (on multiple temporal and spatial scales) work in concert to provide additional diagnostic power to inform the community and improve transparency?

Results and Impact

The project seeks to

  • advance prototype NGEM systems,
  • better understand emissions from facilities in the Rubbertown area, and
  • evaluate potential improvements from recent industry efforts to reduce emissions.

Because this is a limited-scope project using prototype equipment, the data generated are not intended for use in exposure assessments or as part of compliance-related activities. Instead, the data generated are intended for use in evaluating and improving NGEM approaches which, in the future, may benefit communities, industrial facilities, and regulators in minimizing emissions and protecting public health.

This project is funded by EPA’s Regional Applied Research Effort (RARE) and Air and Energy Research Programs.