NASA SBIR 2008 Solicitation


PROPOSAL NUMBER: 08-2 S1.04-8855
SUBTOPIC TITLE: Sensor and Detector Technology for Visible, IR, Far IR and Submillimeter
PROPOSAL TITLE: Digital Array Gas Radiometer (DAGR)

SMALL BUSINESS CONCERN (Firm Name, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
GATS, Inc.
11864 Canon Blvd., Suite 101
Newport News, VA 23606 - 4253
(757) 873-5920

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR/PROJECT MANAGER (Name, E-mail, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Larry L. Gordley
11864 Canon Blvd., Suite 101
Newport News, VA 23606 - 4253
(757) 873-5920

Expected Technology Readiness Level (TRL) upon completion of contract: 5

TECHNICAL ABSTRACT (Limit 2000 characters, approximately 200 words)
The digital array gas radiometer (DAGR) is a new sensor design for accurate measurement and monitoring of trace gases in the boundary layer from space, aircraft, or ground-based platforms using scattered sunlight. Target gases include CH4, CO, CO2, N¬2O and other species critical to climate science, environmental monitoring and commercial pollution compliance efforts.
The DAGR approach builds on traditional gas-filter correlation radiometry (GFCR), a well-known and proven technology for trace gas sensing. The effectiveness of GFCR, however, has historically been limited in downlooking applications primarily because variations in surface albedo degrade its performance. In our Phase I effort, we investigated and demonstrated the ability of the DAGR design to overcome these limitations. With the successful completion of these feasibility studies, the technology has been increased to TRL-3.
In the Phase II effort, we will construct and test a prototype DAGR sensor for CH4 detection and monitoring, advancing the technology to TRL-5. CH4 was chosen as our target gas to meet the pressing commercial need for an improved natural gas leak detection system. For NASA, the DAGR prototype will significantly advance the technology needed for future missions such as ASCENDS, GEOCAPE, and GACM. DAGR represents a major advance in using backscattered light for detecting concentrations of key molecular species.

POTENTIAL NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS (Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words)
The DAGR technology proposed here will directly demonstrate high sensitivity remote sensing of CH¬4 in the boundary layer. With minor adaptations, DAGR could provide simultaneous measurements of additional trace gases such as CO, N2O and SO2. These capabilities are of direct relevance to three NASA Decadal Survey missions: ASCENDS, GEOCAPE and GACM.
In order to separate physiological carbon fluxes from biomass burning and fossil fuel use, ASCENDS must simultaneously measure boundary layer CO2 and additional tracers, ideally CO and CH4. Observations of CO at 4.7 μm are primarily sensitive to the mid-troposphere, but observations at 2.3 μm are needed to extend sensitivity to the surface. A DAGR instrument can provide high precision measurements of both CH4 and CO at 2.3 μm. GEOCAPE and GACM will focus on the carbon cycle, regional air quality, and long-range transport of pollution. Measurements from a DAGR sensor are directly relevant to these goals. Mr. Gordley has been consulting with NASA investigators on the GEOCAPE mission to help advance the technology needed for this mission. Developing a DAGR prototype would be an important step in this direction.

POTENTIAL NON-NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS (Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words)
The primary commercial application targeted by this proposal is natural gas pipeline monitoring. The landscape of Federal regulations in this area is rapidly changing, and the energy industry is highly motivated to move quickly and efficiently towards compliance. Demand for surveillance systems outstrips the services currently available. Based on results from Phase I, the DAGR sensor is superior to state-of-the-art remote detection systems now in operation, and will help meet this demand.
A second commercial application for DAGR is ground-based monitoring of CO2 in sequestration fields. Using current technology, CO2 can be stored in depleted oil and natural gas fields, saline reservoirs and basalt formations. Geologic storage of CO2 can account for over half of the emission reduction needed to achieve atmospheric stabilization. With only minor modifications, the DAGR design could be adapted to sense boundary layer CO2 using backscattered sunlight. Tower-based DAGR sensors would be used for monitoring the ambient level of CO2 at and around the sequestration site during preparation, injection, decommissioning, and finally for long-term monitoring.

NASA's technology taxonomy has been developed by the SBIR-STTR program to disseminate awareness of proposed and awarded R/R&D in the agency. It is a listing of over 100 technologies, sorted into broad categories, of interest to NASA.


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