Industrial processes as well as use of cars, heating of homes, but also leaking gas pipelines and volcanic erruptions transfer enormous quantities of gaseous materials into the atmosphere. These gases are known to result in green house effects. In order to slow down and potentially stop global warming the emission of green house gases has to be monitored  and processes have to be conducted in a way that their emission is minimized.

Gases emitted by these processes above may also be directly harmful to persons who are exposed to them. In these cases monitoring of the actual concentration with sensitivity limits much below the maximum permitted workplace concentrations is essential.

Selected applications of nanoplus sensing lasers for environmental protection include:

Emission control of greenhouse gases: CO2
Environmental policies have been implemented worldwide to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency, human activities account for more than three quarters of CO2 emissions. They are mainly due to the combustion of fossil fuels for energy generation, transportation and industry. Remote sensing technologies have been introduced to quantify CO2 and CO emissions in atmosphere. [93]

Emission control of greenhouse gases: C2H6
Ethane is an important greenhouse gas that has a critical impact on climate change. Emissions are related to fossil fuel and biofuel consumption, biomass combustion and natural gas losses. Trace gas detection of ethane is an important tool to monitor greenhouse gases. [10]

Emission control of greenhouse gases: CH4
Greenhouse gas effects and climate change have triggered global emission monitoring of pollutants like methane. Methane is one of the Earth’s most important atmospheric gases. It is, to a large extend, responsible for the accelerating greenhouse effect. The global warming potential of methane is about 30 times higher than that of CO2 based on a 100 year scale. Studies are executed on behalf of the US Environmental Protection Agency to quantify the methane emissions caused by the increased natural gas exploration and production in the US. [61, 92]

Emission control by methane source identification: C2H6
Ethane is a by-product of methane emissions. The ethane ratio varies between methane emissions from thermogenic and biogenic sources. This allows differentiating oil and gas reserves from those of livestock, landfills, wetlands or stagnant water. Studies are executed on behalf of the US Environmental Protection Agency to quantify methane emissions caused byincreased natural gas exploration and production in the US. A newly developed ethane spectrometer delivers 1 second ethane measurements with sub-ppb precision in an ethane-methane mixture. [61]

Emission control: NOx
NH3 is added in combustion processes to reduce emissions of the flue gas NOx. The two compounds will react to uncritical N2 and H2O. To avoid any corrosive or environmental effects from overuse, the gas volume needs to be continuously monitored. [3, 72]

Emission control of flue gases: NOx
NOx is produced during fuel combustion at power plants and other industrial facilities. When it reacts with SO2 it causes acid rain. For this reason NOx and SO2 emissions are restricted and need to be monitored. [67]

Emission control of flue gases: SO2
SO2 causes acid rain when it reacts with nitrogen oxide. It is generated during fuel combustion at power plants and other industrial facilities. For this reason SO2 emissions are restricted and need to be monitored. [67]

Leakage control in gas pipelines: CH4
Leaks of CH4 may cause dangerous situations and are hard to locate precisely. Hence, maintenance of underground pipelines produces high costs. CH4 leaks are also an important source for greenhouse gases. With TDLS a strong tool is available to manufacture portable leak detectors.

Monitoring of climate processes: H2O
Ecologists are worried about the melting of permafrost soils in the northern hemisphere. Greenhouse gases like CO2 or CH4 that are stored in the soil might be released in this case. Another, less observed, thread comes from the evaporation and condensation of large water vapor volumes. A laser-based hygrometer for mobile field applications has been developed. It measures water vapour in situ and at low concentrations. An airborn approach for monitoring climate processes is the use of a multi-wavelength H2O-Differential Absorption Lidar. It examines the whole troposphere and lower stratosphere simultaneously. [21, 46]

Combustion control in high temperature processes: CO
CO is a major element in high temperature processes. Optimizing CO concentration in flue gas increases combustion efficiency. Simultaneously, it reduces greenhouse gas emissions. CO detection at long wavelengths like 2.8 µm and 4.3 µm uses stronger vibrational absorption features than the shorter wavelength ranges. This effect increases the sensitivity of the detector and allows using measurement set ups with short path lengths. [3, 12, 35, 48]

Combustion control in high temperature processes: CO2 and CH4
Continuous monitoring of contents like CO2 or CH4 concentrations is essential for the efficiency of high-temperature processes in e. g. incinerators, furnaces or petrochemical refineries. Managing the CO2 content in combustion processes simultaneously reduces greenhouse gas emissions. This is also relevant for energy generating industries like coal burning power plants. [12, 35, 40, 45, 62, 94, 96]

Workplace exposure monitoring: CH2O

Formaldehyde has been used in consumer and industrial products since the beginning of the 19th century. Currently the annual formaldehyde production accounts for 21 million tons. About 50 % are processed as adhesives in pressed wood panels. In 2004 formaldehyde has been classified carcinogenic by the International Agency for Research on Cancer. Since then formaldehyde concentrations have been strictly controlled in the production process as well as in the finished product. Laser-based measurement systems are required to detect the maximum levels of 0.01 ppb (USA) and 2 ppb (EU). [9, 22, 78]

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