A system for measuring the spatial and/or temporal quantity of particles in a gas


A system for measuring the spatial and/or temporal quantity of particles in a gas while avoiding background noise such as ambient solar light and dust.

"Particulate matter," also known as particle pollution, is a complex mixture of extremely small particles and liquid droplets and has been identified as a health hazard. Particle pollution is made up of a number of components, including acids, organic chemicals, metals, and soil or dust particles. The sources of particle pollution include dust, fuel combustion, fires, vehicle emissions, industrial process (mining, chemical manufacturing), industrial solvents, cooking and waste disposal. In the United States the emission of particulate matter is regulated by the Environmental Protection Agency.

Although its application is far broader, this system was specifically developed by the team at the Desert Research Institute to measure both black carbon particles and organic carbon particles in real time. The research has shown that the remote sensing of vehicle exhaust is economical method to determine on-road emissions for thousands of vehicles per day.

Technology Summary
The technology is a system that utilizes ultraviolet laser backscattering to measure particles in a gas. The use of an ultraviolet laser is not influenced by ambient solar light and allows measurement of particles from 5nm to 130nm (eg. black and organic carbon). The timing function allows measurement of particles within a specific space and time. The timing function and use of ultraviolet also provides discrimination between exhaust particles and larger particles such as dust. In combination with backscatter the timing signal provides a particle density measurement. The ability to measure both black carbon and organic carbon particles provides a total carbon count. When combined with a carbon dioxide emission measurement a ratio of particulate emissions per volume of fuel can be calculated.

Using this patented technology the DRI has developed a novel Vehicle Emissions Remote Sensing System (VERSS) for the on-road remote sensing of fuel-based particulate matter emissions. The instrument has been used extensively in a major air quality studies.

Potential Applications
Measure Black Carbon or Organic Carbon emissions from:

  • fossil fuels
  • biofuels
  • open biomass burning
  • burning of urban waste

Other particle applications include:

  • municipal and hazardous waste incinerators
  • power plants
  • paper mills
  • glass industries
  • fertilizer plants

Available for non-exclusive or exclusive licensing and the Desert Research institute is seeking statements of capability or interest from parties interested in collaborative research to further develop, evaluate, or commercialize this technology.

IP Status
UNR ID# DRI00-003
Patent No.: 6,542,831

Patent Information:
For Information, Contact:
Dan Langford
Technology Commercialization, Manager
University of Nevada, Reno and Desert Research Institute
Robert Kcislar
Hans Moosmuller