Mike Hannigan's research group has worked on many different air quality projects. For some quick information check out the projects below or click on the links to learn more. 


Spatial Variability Projects

One of the benefits of using low-cost air quality measurement devices (such as U-Pods and Y-Pods) is the ability to deploy many of them in a small spatial area and help quantify the variation of air pollutants in a very localized setting. The use of low-cost electrochemical sensors makes this type of study financially possible, and the colocation and calibration procedures developed by the Hannigan group help to convert the raw sensor data into concentrations of pollutants. These calibrations also take into consideration sensor error and bias in order to produce meaningful results. For more information on the U-Pod hardware and software go to Mobile Sensing Technology

The current studies being conducted by the lab involve measuring the spatial variability of ozone in areas ranging from 1 to 100 km2. There are projects being conducted by group members in both LA and Boulder. The goal is to use the data to develop a better understanding of how pollutants vary within a city and how they relate to different meteorological parameters and land use patterns. These findings could be useful to regulatory agencies or air quality professionals in order to help them reduce harmful pollutants and also notify citizens of times of day and locations of dangerous pollutant levels. 

Our Spatial Variability Projects include: 

  • Sensors for Community Air Quality Assessment: The purpose of the project is to study ground-level ozone in the LA basin, an area with a notoriously high number of exceedances of the NAAQS (National Ambient Air Quality Standard) specified by the EPA. Ozone has negative effects on human and plant health.

  • Boulder County Air Quality using Sensors: The purpose of the project is to study the small scale spatial variability of ground level ozone in Boulder. The Denver-metropolitan and North Front Range region (including Boulder) was designated a nonattainment area for ozone by the EPA in 2012 based on 8-hr averaged ozone concentrations exceeding the NAAQS (National Ambient Air Quality Standard) for ozone.

  • Heating and Indoor Air Quality on the Navajo Nation: This project is aimed at gaining a better understanding of how heating fuel choice can impact air quality in homes on the Navajo Nation.  Employing U-pod air quality monitors, developed by members of the Hannigan lab, in addition to filter sampling equipment,  gas and particle phase pollutants were measured inside and outside of homes in Tsaile, Arizona, and Shiprock New Mexico.

  • Community Air Quality in Oil and Gas Development Basins in Colorado: In this group of studies, U-pod Air Quality Monitors are used to measure several atmospheric trace gases in two oil and gas production basins via spatially distributed continuous measurements.


Cookstove Project

According to recent reports, nearly three billion people in the developing world cook food and heat their homes with open fires or cook stoves that are fueled by solid biofuels. The smoke exposure from these activities is estimated to lead to approximately four million premature deaths each year. The emissions from these processes also add significantly to global emissions of greenhouse gases, short-lived climate forcing agents, and air pollutants. However, emission estimates from these processes and their atmospheric impacts are still highly uncertain. Furthermore, stove technologies exist that enable reductions in the amount of fuel used for cooking, and in emissions. Yet, the extent to which these technologies will be utilized, change emissions, and impact health and atmospheric composition is unclear.

Learn more about our cook stove project REACCTING.


VOC Sensors and Arrays for Hydrocarbon Quantification Projects

More recently our lab has begun exploring the use of low-cost VOC sensors for the quantification of methane and non-methane hydrocarbons. We are interested in using our sensors for applications ranging from long-term ambient methane monitoring to leak-detection at potential sources (e.g., on a well pad). Hydrocarbon detection and monitoring present a unique challenge because typically many different hydrocarbons may originate from a single source and the types, as well as relative proportions of these different hydrocarbons, varies from source to source. For example, two different oil and gas basins may have very different makeups in terms of the relative proportions of methane, propane, ethane, etc… in the natural gas. For this reason, we calibrate specifically for the environment in which we plan to sample and we are exploring different types of analysis and the use of sensor arrays to better isolate particular hydrocarbons, such as methane, or improve our quantification of groupings, such as total non-methane hydrocarbons. 

Our VOC sensors and Arrays for Hydrocarbon Quantification projects include: 

  • Methane and Non-Methane Hydrocarbon Monitoring in Communities: We are supporting the use of our monitors and working to improve both methane and total non-methane hydrocarbon quantification in two communities in California.

  • Methane Detector Challenge: Our lab participated in a challenge issued by EDF to develop a ‘smoke-alarm’ type methane monitor that could be placed on a well-pad to catch major leaks.

  • FRAPPE/DISCOVER-AQ: Approximately 20 low-cost monitors were deployed during the summer of 2014 to examine spatial variability of pollutants in a remote sensing-sized grid cell bio.