Overview

Poor air quality has been identified as one of the major challenges facing the UK. It is believed to be a contributing factor in at least 40,000 premature deaths annually. A recent report from a team at King's College London has found an increased number of hospital admissions for cardiac arrest, stroke or acute asthma attacks on days with high levels of pollution

Preliminary work for this project has indicated that traditional approaches based on long term averaging at a small number of high accuracy (and high cost) sites does not reveal the fine structure that exists in measurements in proximity to sources of pollution.

It is proposed to develop a system that will be able to monitor pollutant gases and particulate matter cheaply and quickly. It will be ultimately engineered to be as light and compact as possible so that it can be deployed using a range of methods (backpack, bicycle, UAV etc) to provide measurements from ground level up to the maximum altitude (400 ft) at which UAV’s are allowed to fly. Measured air quality data will be logged in real time and presented using data visualisation tools. Methods for accessing the data from the system using cloud based services will also be investigated.

Methodology

A prototype has been created as part of an undergraduate final year project. It is proposed that this will be developed further. Experiments have already taken place across the Loughborough University campus by transporting the device on foot and using a bicycle. Preliminary tests have been carried out using a UAV. The roadmap for this project looks to re-engineer the device to integrate the sensors onto a custom circuit board to decrease the physical size, weight and future production costs. Also, as the device can collect large datasets from a variety of gas and particulate measurements, a suitable “Big Data” solution for visualising the data will be implemented.

Training and Skills

In addition to the CENTA training, the student will be expected to undertake training towards a Civil Aviation Authority Permission For Commercial Operations (or whatever equivalent is in place at the time the studentship starts). Depending on the student’s skill set a range of masters level modules will be available.

Timeline

Year 1:

  1. Review of literature to identify previous and current work on mobile air quality monitoring
  2. Extended tests of current prototype systems
  3. Re-engineering of current systems for lightness and compactness
  4. Identification of suitable platforms for transporting the measurement systems
  5. Obtain qualification as UAV pilot to allow safe and approved operation of Drones on Loughborough campus

Year 2:

  1. Establish network of static measurement systems
  2. Develop sampling plan for a section of built-up campus
  3. Evaluate and develop associated safety case

Year 3:

  1. Design and establish methodology for continuous monitoring of campus air quality
  2. Investigate use of cloud-based services for analysis and prediction of air quality over campus

Partners and collaboration (including CASE)

Loughborough University has a particular interest in air quality. It is the training base for a large number of elite athletes. Poor air quality adversely affects athletes to a far greater extent than the population at large. A method to measure air quality across the University campus on a continuous, real-time basis would provide a means of correlating performance against pollution levels, as well as potentially warning of extremes of air quality. The University’s sustainability team will be CASE partner on this project. Loughborough’s 440 acre campus will provide an ideal environment for evaluating the approach.

Further Details

For further details, please contact either supervisor:

Dr Paul Lepper                  p.a.lepper@lboro.ac.uk

Dr Simon Pomeroy          s.c.pomeroy@lboro.ac.uk