Alexander Malaver on the QUT Gardens roof with the sensor
QUT School of Engineering Systems master student, Alexander Malaver, wants to find out. He has built a solar powered environmental monitoring system to chart the concentrations of three pollutants:. Is CO2 the biggest concern? Or is it the less talked about pollutants that really push the world's natural balance?
Nitrogen dioxide (NO2) : from combustion engines
Nitrous oxide (N2O) : faming pollution
Ammonia (NH3) : farming pollution
These three byproducts of industry are more intense of a greenhouse gas by a multiple of CO2, but do not come near the volume produced per year. Malaver's goal is to place them around farms, highways, cities, etc and monitor levels vs the climate change in the watched region. By showing the changes, hopes that industry will curtail their operations are in the plans. Where they do or not is really placed on the conscientious business owner, but more likely local laws will force the change.
Keeping in the groove of environmentally minded, the University of Roma Tor Vergata's solar panels powering the University of Brescia sensors are low cost dye sensitized solar cells, in the thin-film family. Photons excite the electrons in a molecular dye, and in turn push to a porous layer of titanium dioxide nanoparticles. Then the electrons flow towards an electrode solution and later collected for use. Efficiencies are in the 5%-12% range. Regular silicon based solar cells have an efficiency of 13%-15%, for comparison.
The next step is to create a wireless network of these sensors, start collecting the data, and wait for the expected troubling reports.