Mobile Air Quality Monitoring with Real-Time Mobile VOC Monitors

PTR-MS (Proton Transfer Reaction – Mass Spectrometry) has become the standard method for rapid, ultra-sensitive quantitative monitoring of volatile organic compounds (VOCs).

Robust PTR-MS systems from IONICON are commonly employed in environmental monitoring applications, often found in measurement vans, aircraft and ships due to their ability to easily withstand the harsh conditions, vibrations and shocks associated with these mobile platforms.

The recent introduction of IONICON’s modular, compact PTR-TOF QB series has facilitated the inclusion and operation of PTR-MS on even smaller mobile platforms such as passenger cars.

Image Credit: University of Oslo / Ionicon Analytik Ges.m.b.H.

Offering sensitivities beyond 30.000 cps/ppbV in combination with limits of detection of single-digit pptV levels and under, the PTR-TOF QB offers high precision monitoring of VOCs at the highest spatiotemporal resolutions.

IONICON’s PTR-MS in the field

Researchers at the University of Oslo (UiO) worked with IONICON to install a PTR-TOF 1000 QB and a range of additional analytical instrumentation into a compact, SUV-sized plug-in hybrid electric vehicle.

All power to the instrumentation was supplied via the plug-in hybrid’s internal 230 V power supply. The vehicle’s power supply is able to support up to 1500 W - more than enough to accommodate the 500 to 800 W of power required for the PTR-TOF 1000 QB to operate.

PTR-TOF 1000 QB aboard UiO's mobile measurement vehicle. Image Credit: A. Håland, University of Oslo (UiO)

The analyzer’s compact volume of only 0.22 m3 meant that the researchers from UiO had two viable installation options for the modular PTR-TOF 1000 QB: sideways next to one another only using the SUV’s trunk area, or behind one another using the total available cargo area.

The researchers chose the second option in order to ensure the highest flexibility and to reserve space for any additional instrumentation and pumps deemed necessary.

UiO's staff chasing a landfill fire plume, tracking toxic organic gases with their mobile PTR-TOF lab. Image Credit: A. Håland, University of Oslo (UiO)

They also installed a compact VOC inlet on top of the vehicle, allowing them to measure air quality outside the boundary layer of the moving car while still meeting all relevant European legal requirements.

The plug-in hybrid is able to support measurements for an extended period without polluting the local sample air, thanks to its battery capacity of approximately 14 kWh.

Thus far, the team of researchers at UiO has employed this compact mobile lab to monitor and map hazardous air pollutants in smoke plumes and to conduct real life emission studies of vehicles located in a range of urban environments.

About Ionicon Analytik Ges.m.b.H.

IONICON Analytik was founded 1998 as a spin-off company of the University of Innsbruck, Austria

commercializing an innovative technology called Proton Transfer Reaction - Mass Spectrometry. Since then we have been improving this leading-edge technology resulting in the development of several types of ultra sensitive high resolution online mass spectrometers for monitoring and quantification of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in sub-pptv level concentrations.

Today we are the world’s leading producer of trace gas analyzers with market-leading, real-time, single-digit pptv-level detection limits using the unique Proton Transfer Reaction – Mass Spectrometry (PTR-MS) and Selective Reagent Ionization – Mass Spectrometry (SRI-MS) technology. Our product portfolio comprises our renowned PTR-TOF instruments, air monitoring solutions and custom built TOF-MS, complemented by our own range of trace calibration devices and accessories.

We developed our own "ioniTOF" time-of-flight (TOF) mass spectrometer platform that we produce in-house for our PTR-TOF series instruments and APi-TOF systems. We also strive to let others benefit from our customizable, affordable ioniTOF ecosystem for research and OEM applications.

Since 1998, we are serving our customers in many different application areas including atmospheric chemistry, environmental research, mobile labs and trace gas analysis (e.g. emissions in urban and remote areas, indoor spaces, vehicles), food and flavour science (e.g. analysis of coffee, olive oil, butter, cheese, wine, herbal extracts and aromas, e-cigarettes & "ENDS"), industrial VOC monitoring (e.g. in chemical factories and production sites of the semiconductor industry) and illicit substances detection (Explosives, CWAs, TICs). We have also developed special knowledge in medical and biotechnological applications where real-time monitoring of industrial fermentation processes, of synthetic gas production processes in the petrochemical industry and real-time breath gas analysis in clinical settings e.g. for COVID-19 research, are carried out.

We also offer analytical services and are an active contributor to numerous international scientific research and training projects.

We proudly manufacture our precision instruments in Innsbruck, Austria.

Get in touch and we'll solve your analytical challenge!


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Last updated: Apr 13, 2021 at 6:17 AM

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