Office of the President

Monitoring Emissions in Real Time

Dr. Somenath Mitra has invented a device to monitor NMOC emissions in real time. 

Somenath Mitra, professor of chemistry, has invented a new technique for on-line monitoring of toxic chemicals, such as solvents and organic vapors, in air emissions at very low levels. The new device is an automated instrument for continuous monitoring of NMOC -- the non-methane organic carbon analysis -- which is a measure of all carbon emissions except that for methane. Monitoring occurs  real-time, and can be carried out at the site of contamination.

The key element in the device a "microtrap" that gathers organics from the air stream in a sorbent. Rapid (1 to 1.5 seconds) electrical heating of the microtrap releases the chemicals in a concentrated pulse that serves as an injection for the detector. The technique works much faster than any conventional monitoring systems and increases sensitivity by two or three orders of magnitude, allowing analysis of very low concentrations. Dr. Mitra has received a patent for the instrument. Funded by U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Office of Air Quality Planning and Standards, the device was successfully field tested by the EPA at a coatings factory in North Carolina. The research team is now exploring options for commercialization.