QLM has developed an innovative product: the first portable system for visualising greenhouse gas emissions. This type of technology is required by many industrial facilities for emission reporting and to assess emissions reduction initiatives. However, many existing options are costly and cumbersome.
QLM’s system uses a novel laser technique which emits light wavelengths around the absorption lines of methane and CO2. A key feature is the high-speed frequency tuning of the laser, which rapidly adjusts its wavelength, giving rich real-time data on emissions concentrations. Using both absorption measurement techniques and photon detection technology, it can make rapid and highly accurate measurements of laser light absorption, from which it can calculate the concentration of these gases in the air.
QLM had already validated the system on well characterised gas samples, but it wanted a better understanding of the underlying physics of how it worked in order to improve calibration, product development and consumer confidence. QLM approached NPL to help them better understand the laser’s properties.
NPL worked with QLM to investigate a variety of novel optical techniques for making very rapid measurements of frequency response of their laser system. Many of these were techniques that QLM was unaware of and did not have access to.
NPL provided recommendations around laser measurement technology selection and optimal laser tuning, with a view to supporting QLM's in-house testing procedures. This gave QLM a detailed understanding of the physics of their lasers, and an appreciation of new, practical ways to measure light absorption.
QLM used the project data and new knowledge of measurement techniques to build a calibration rig – comprising of highly calibrated CO2 and methane gas samples and an oscilloscope – at their own facility. This allowed for accurate calibration and reproducible measurement results, creating trustworthy data for customers. This has the potential to provide vital reassurance to the customer and support the launch of this new and innovative product.
The detailed understanding of the product has helped QLM improve processes for component manufacture, and reduce the cost of production. It is anticipated that the work will also help them to continue to modify and improve the product in future, as well as adapt it to new applications.
Without NPL’s support, QLM estimate it would have taken 6-12 months longer to do this necessary work. NPL’s expertise ensured the R&D was completed quickly and thoroughly. This came at a critical time as the company was seeking seed funding, which it has now received, in part due to the successful completion of the R&D driving investor interest.
QLM can now offer an affordable and scalable solution for measuring greenhouse gas emissions, backed by trustworthy data. This will enable them to encourage a wide range of industries to use their new portable equipment to monitor CO2 and support their emission reduction measures.