When you think about air pollution, the first thing popping into your head is probably carbon dioxide, and that is because i’s the most common pollutant. CO2 is actually less powerful than the trio formed by nitrogen dioxide (NO2), nitrous oxide (N2O) and ammonia (NH3).
Coming from engines, various combustions, manure and fertilizers, these three are somewhat neglected because they come in relatively lower concentrations. What if these could affect our atmosphere more than carbon dioxide?
Tha’s what Alexander Malaver, a QUT (Queensland University of Technology) School of Engineering systems master student thought about when designing a solar-powered sensor station that offers real time insight into the gas concentrations of the air.
Part of an international study on nano sensors relying on sunlight, the device is important to figure out if these gases are potentially dangerous to humans or only affect the ecosystems.
Similar devices are based on silicon technology, which is more expensive and more energy consuming. But Malaver’s design consists of metal oxide nanowires and carbon nanotubes; just like plants do, the third-generation, dye-sensitized solar cells use the sun’s energy to power the station. Plus, it will run wirelessly, meaning that nodes communicate to transmit information to the central monitoring station. As a proof, the roof station at QUT Gardens Point already does that, making the data available from any QUT computer.
Alexander Malaver’s project is under the supervision of Professors Nunzio Motta, Peter Corke and John Bell.