The primary NASA need for this technology is to measure PM light absorption at different altitudes for its Airborne Measurement program. At present, PM absorption is measured by collecting sample on a filter subtract and measuring light extinction and scattering of the collected samples during the airborne measurements. This method suffers from a number of intrinsic errors such as low sensitivity. The proposed DPAS technique will be far more sensitive than MAAP, and is capable of providing 1s data acquisition measurement on absorption. In addition, emissions of small particulates (PM10 and PM2.5) are regulated by the EPA. The impact of particulate emissions from aircraft engines, which have a direct effect on radiative forcing, is magnified by the fact they are typically emitted in the upper troposphere and lower stratosphere where their influence is greatest. Past NASA programs such as EXCAVATE, APEX, UNA-UNA, and AAFEX have had as a major focus of their work, the measurement of black carbon (BC) emissions from civilian aircraft engines. The proposed DPAS PM absorption monitor can be used as a BC emission monitor to provide a cost-efficient, compact, fast and real-time BC measurement on aircraft engines.
We expect that the DPAS PM absorption monitor developed under this program will significantly benefit the scientific community interested in characterizing the radiative properties of ambient aerosols. The ability of one instrument to simultaneously measure particle absorption with good time resolution and high precision will enable continuous measurements of the particle optical absorption that can be directly used by regional and global climate forcing models. The development of a DPAS PM absorption monitor would have a large impact on the ambient air quality monitoring community. PM2.5 and PM10 levels must be routinely monitored as part of ambient air pollution monitoring programs. Current techniques rely on use of collection filters and subsequent weighing, a procedure which is labor intensive (and thus expensive) and prone to human error. There are 5000 sites in the U.S. alone which must monitor particulates under the mandate of the Clean Air Act of 1970. If sufficient miniaturization and cost reduction can be achieved, a DPAS PM absorption monitor could also be used in manufacturing plants, warehouses, garages, etc. where occupational safety and health concerns about particulate matters are an issue. OSHA standards are far less sensitive (15 mg m-3) than EPA standards (0.15 mg m-3), thus imposing less stringent requirements on the performance of the monitor.