OptoKnowledge has developed a methane sensor, which can determine both the concentration and the carbon isotope ratio of methane while operating in-situ at depth. The sensor combines a novel laser absorption spectroscopy gas sensor with a membrane-free approach to water sampling and was developed under funding from the NOAA SBIR Program. The sensor has been demonstrated in a CTD deployment (June 2021) and will further be utilized by NOAA researchers on a ROV (July 2022). The approach will provide significantly more data and at a cost savings as compared to the analysis of returned samples.
There is a critical need for deep ocean chemical sensors that can address outstanding questions in oceanography and earth science, including the role of methane in the global carbon cycle. Current measurement strategies involve collecting a limited number of samples, which are initially processed on-board ships, and then later analyzed in a shore-based laboratory through a time-consuming and labor-intensive process. An in-situ, real-time methane sensor could provide the ability to analyze a far greater number of samples, as well as spatially resolve variations and better target measurement locations. This enhanced capability would facilitate:
- Finding methane seep and hydrothermal vent sites
- Understanding the fate of methane in the water column
- Quantifying the extent of microbial activity in vent systems
- Track methane production and fractionation in real-time.
Federal Procurement - Sole Source Information
The right to receive sole-source awards is a real benefit of the SBIR Program both to the government and to the participating companies. The SBA SBIR/STTR Policy Directive dictates the justification that an agency can and must use to justify the sole-source award. Predictably, that justification reads that the new award must derive from, extend, or complete prior SBIR effort and be funded with non- SBIR funds.