State researchers develop new technique for measuring particulate matter

By Park Sae-jin Posted : April 6, 2021, 17:44 Updated : April 6, 2021, 17:44

[Courtesy of the Ministry of Environment]

SEOUL -- A state research institute has developed a new effective technique for monitoring emissions of particulate matter, which is hazardous microscopic particles of solid and liquid matter suspended in the air. The remote sensing technique is based on measuring the infrared intensity spectra of the sun from a moving vehicle equipped with a measuring device.

Particulate matter, also known as fine dust, is not only emitted through chimneys and exhaust pipes at industrial facilities. it is also created when particulate matter sources such as nitrogen oxide, sulfur oxide, and volatile organic compounds are released during factory operation 
through leaks and irregular gas release known as fugitive emissions.

Particulate matter sources chemically react with the atmosphere to turn into fine dust. It is hard to measure such air pollution created through fugitive emissions because sensors that monitor irregular emissions of particulate matter are mainly installed on chimneys.

The Ministry of Environment said in a statement on April 6 that researchers at the National Institute of Environmental Research have developed Solar Occultation Flux (SOF) to measure the rate of emissions. A SOF device is capable of accurately measuring the amount of particulate matter sources.

"The SOF technique is an innovative technology that can analyze leaks and irregular gas emissions and monitor air pollution emissions," Kim Young-woo, head of the institute's atmospheric research division, was quoted as saying.

The SOF device has been tested for four months since December 2020, and researchers were able to find industrial facilities with irregular fugitive emissions from storage tanks, the ministry said, adding it would develop mobile-based SOF technology.

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