150 West Iowa Avenue, Unit 202
Sunnyvale, CA 94086
Project Title: High Sensitivity Laser-Induced Incandescence Instrument
NIST Award(s): SB1341-06-C-0042
Technology Developed: Laser-induced incandescence (LII) is an advanced electro-optical method for detecting soot concentration and primary particle size by nanosecond heating of the soot, measuring the incandescence, and relating to the soot particulate characteristics. Laser-induced incandescence techniques have been developed into a high sensitivity instrument for measuring soot particulate emissions from diesels, gas turbine engines, and other combustion sources. The method has the advantages of measuring only the soot particulate and can be used in direct exhaust measurements without dilution.
Key Words: soot, incandescence, laser-induced, LII, black carbon, elemental carbon, sizing, particulate emission
Uses of Technology/Products/Service: Laser-Induced Incandescence (LII) is used to monitor soot from combustion sources. New regulations on diesel particulate matter (PM) emissions mandating the use of advanced instrumentation for monitoring the PM in exhausts by engine developers and for determining compliance of in-use engines. Because of the new stringent requirements on engine PM emissions, gravimetric methods are no longer practical for this purpose because they require lengthy sampling times and cannot provide information on transient emissions during startup and acceleration. Furthermore, the gravimetric methods are labor intensive and lack sensitivity at low emissions levels. LII has the capability of sampling soot concentrations down to environmental levels. We have incorporated several patented features including self-compensation for changes in the laser fluence, low fluence operation to which eliminates the risk of losing a part of the sample that is being measured, and a novel NIST Traceable calibration method. The instrument may also be used for online monitoring of the soot primary particle size in the production of carbon black. This research and development contract follows the work started by NASA and EPA SBIR Phase I and II contracts and significantly advanced the instrument performance and sensitivity making it more suitable for the applications to 2007 PM emissions regulatory requirements.
Benefit to Company: Availability of instrumentation for monitoring combustion generated particulate matter (PM) is an important requirement needed as stricter environmental standards and controls on PM emissions are imposed. Engine manufacturers need these tools to advance their combustion system development and to test PM control systems such as diesel particulate filters to meet the evolving emissions standards. Thus, the market for a high sensitivity, reliable, accurate and easy to use instrumentation is potentially very large. The support provided under this SBIR Phase II program has allowed us to address this market and to significantly improve the sensitivity of the LII instrument and advance its performance. We have been able to work with engine manufacturers to learn what is needed and to develop a better understanding of where and how the instrument will be used. We have also obtained information on what other parameters need to be measured and are working to incorporate these features into our instruments. By significantly increasing the PM sensitivity, we expect to be able to address more general environmental PM monitoring requirements. A goal for our LII technology is to address the need for roadside monitoring and vehicle PM emission requirements. As diesel engines become more prominent in the US, PM testing will undoubtedly be added to the standard "smog tests" currently mandated. We also see a growing market for PM monitoring in Europe where diesels are more common than gasoline engines. This SBIR program is providing the resources to advance the instrumentation to meet the sensitivity, reliability and accuracy requirements for these applications.
Impact on Company Growth: Tactical, Strategic
How Product Was Commercialized: The LII instrument was developed into an advanced prototype and units were tested in the field with our partners, Sandia National Laboratory, Combustion Research Facility and the National Research Council, Canada to evaluate the method and make the necessary improvements before reaching full commercialization. Feedback received from these tests was critical in advancing the method to the next level prototype. We then worked in cooperation with the California Air Resources Board (CARB) to test the instrument using heavy duty trucks on dynamometers and on-road studies. Finally, we contacted industrial engine manufacturers and conducted tests in their engine tests cells. These studies allowed us to better understand the market requirements and to build an instrument that fulfilled the needs of our target markets. We have also worked in cooperation with researchers in the carbon black industry and continue to develop our LII instrument to meet their online monitoring requirements.
Past R&D and/or Sales from this Project: $1M
Estimated Future Annual R&D and/or Sales from this Project: $10M