Levi Stanton, 2015, Civil and Environmental Engineering

Air pollutant models tend to be accurate when looking at a large-scale area, but when one compares data from near a source to what the model predicts for that area, a great discrepancy can be seen. Understanding pollutants near the source is extremely crucial, as a higher-than-accounted-for concentration of pollutants could cause local ecosystem damage and unsafe air quality. This summer in conjunction with Professor Mark Zondlo’s group, I utilized a suite of sensors including systems used to measure methane (CH4), ammonia (NH3), carbon dioxide (CO2), nitrous oxide (N2O), water vapor, as well as temperature, humidity, and pressure to spatially map pollution in both China and Colorado. The suite of sensors were mounted on a small SUV, which allowed us to explore a variety of interests including: waste water treatment plants, compressed and liquid natural gas vehicles, concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs; cattle and dairy), and oil and natural gas drilling and processing sites. In Colorado the group was part of NASA’s DISCOVER-AQ campaign, which aimed to correlate air quality data between satellites, aircraft, ground stations, and mobile laboratories like ours. After completing this campaign, I am looking forward to working with Professor Zondlo on my senior thesis, which will investigate the massive amount of data we gathered during our time in Colorado.