Atmospheric Chemistry

Layout of the NO Detection System

Induced Fluorescence NO Detector and Method

US Patent 11,415,859 – Exclusive and Non-Exclusive Patent Licenses Available Background Nitric oxide (NO) is important to radical chemistry in Earth’s atmosphere. In the troposphere the catalytic reaction of NO with the hydroperoxy and organic peroxy radicals NO+RO2/HO2 →NO2 +RO/HO is frequently the rate-limiting step for the production of tropospheric ozone (O3), and causes the buildup of O3 from anthropogenic emissions of NO. Oxidation of NO also results in the formation of nitric acid, and consequently nitrate aerosols and nitrogen deposition. Current research in atmospheric science seek to  understand radical chemistry cycling in low NO regimes. The ability to measure atmospheric NO at very low mixing ratios and with low uncertainty will be crucial to address questions in atmospheric chemistry research and in other fields of research for the foreseeable future. For example, measurement of NO in exhaled human breath is also an important diagnostic of various medical conditions including asthma. Summary of the Invention NOAA has developed a device and method to measure nitric oxide (NO) in the atmosphere with laser induced fluorescence using a fiber laser source to excite NO near 215 nm (A(v’=1) <- X(v’’=0) electronic transition). The technique can distinguish NO isotopologues (14N16O, 15N16O, 14N18O) and can be used to measure the isotope ratios. Nitrogen dioxide can be measured by photolyzing it and measuring the nitric oxide product. The technique uses a light source of sufficient power in the wavelength range of 300-410 nm, and illuminates the sampled gas either in the sampling inlet or in the fluorescence detection cell. The invention can be used to measure NO with very high precision (low part per trillion mixing ratios). Licensing Information NOAA is seeking qualified licensees to manufacture and sell this technology, which has been Patented in the United States.  Interested parties should contact the NOAA TPO at noaa.t2@noaa.gov for more information. 

S Curved Time of Flight Chamber

S-Curve Time of Flight Mass Spectrometer

US Patents 9,761,431 and 10,438,788 – Exclusive and Non-Exclusive Patent Licenses Available Time-of‐flight mass spectrometers are commonly used in analytical chemistry and many other applications. They contain a region where ions travel toward a detector. NOAA scientists have developed a new geometry that has improved performance over existing designs. The new innovation is to use two successive sectors, with the second one reversed, in a geometry resembling an “s”. The result is that the output ion beam is parallel to the input ion beam and that the entire geometry folds into a very compact volume. A second benefit to the design is that certain higher-order aberrations cancel when the ion beam makes two identical but opposed turns (e.g. a right-hand turn followed by a left-hand turn). NOAA is seeking qualified licensees to manufacture and sell this patented device.  Interested companies should contact the NOAA TPO at noaa.t2@noaa.gov for more information.  Shaped Time of Flight Chamber. Machined prototype. Credit: NOAA

Figure 1: Rendering of the air-deployed Black Swift S0 for use in hurricane research.

Small Business Innovation Research – a Pathway to Commercial Success for Black Swift Technologies

Black Swift Technologies works through NOAA and Air Force SBIR to Develop Multi-Mission UAS Capabilities NOAA’s Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Program was established to support innovative research projects complementing NOAA’s core mission of science, service, and stewardship. Qualified businesses are evaluated based on their degree of innovation, technical merit, and future market potential1. In 2018, Black Swift Technologies (BST) was awarded a Phase I SBIR grant, the purpose of which was to determine the scientific, technical, and commercial feasibility of a proposed air-deployed unmanned aerial system (UAS) for boundary layer observations in turbulent environments (Contract 1305M218CNRMW0059). The aircraft under consideration was named the Black Swift S0™ UAS (figure 1) and subsequently was awarded a NOAA Phase II SBIR grant to help support the development of a commercially viable prototype. The S0 is now one of three small UAS platforms NOAA is evaluating for use in sampling the lowest and most dangerous regions of a tropical cyclone as part of their hurricane research initiative.  Figure 1: Rendering of the air-deployed Black Swift S0 for use in hurricane research. The S0 was designed to address technical objectives defined by NOAA. The requirements included: Keep the price of each UAS significantly lower than similar platforms to allow for more routine operations and increased use of this technology by NOAA Able to measure 3D winds along with temperature, humidity, and pressure Deliver sea surface characterization using a laser altimeter and thermal IR sensor 1-2 hours of cruise flight endurance Integration with existing radio system used currently for dropsondes in order to stream data back to the aircraft A simple to use interface to pre-program the aircraft Provide intelligent and autonomous sampling where the aircraft can make its own navigation decisions based on atmospheric sensor data. Critical to the success of the S0 UAS platform was Black Swift’s ability to reduce the complexity and weight of the vehicle compared with existing platforms, offering an order of magnitude decrease in cost while maintaining endurance without sacrificing performance and measurement quality. These characteristics proved to be equally valuable in the eyes of the United States Air Force when they announced an SBIR solicitation for development of a tactical weather drone able to autonomously conduct atmospheric profiling supporting more accurate cargo drops and improved localized weather forecasts for Air Force and Special Operations Forces. Unlike the UAS proposed for NOAA, which was a tube-launched variant, the USAF required a vertical takeoff and landing aircraft, yet many of the flight characteristics (such as operations in high wind speeds) mirrored that of the original S0 UAS. The team at Black Swift evaluated their existing design and determined that, with minor alterations, the S0 could address all the requirements that the USAF outlined in their submission. The result is the Black Swift S0-VTOL, a small, ruggedized UAS capable of carrying a variety of different sensors including a full atmospheric sampling suite or small, lightweight EO/IR cameras. While the fuselage remained essentially the same, the wing structure, engine mounts and tail design all were redesigned to enable the new S0 for vertical takeoffs and landings (figure 2). Figure 2: The redesigned S0 with VTOL capabilities. Not only did the Air Force award Black Swift Technologies the SBIR Phase I contract, they were so impressed with the solution proposed by BST that they subsequently awarded them the Phase II SBIR contract to develop their UAS design. The S0-VTOL is an intelligent UAS designed for autonomous flights at altitudes up to 15,000 feet AGL. It’s designed for rapid ascent and descent profiles and has custom wind estimation algorithms to allow the S0-VTOL to quickly and accurately capture 3-dimensional wind profiles. The user interface provides automated sampling patterns and high-level mission scripting all for “launch-and-forget” operations (figure 3). Figure 3: Example flight pattern flown by the S0-VTOL to quickly determine wind speed and direction as well as other thermodynamic parameters at altitudes up to 15,000 ft. AGL. Both variants of Black Swift’s S0 were the result of funding provided through the SBIR program. This program of recognizing and rewarding technology innovation is critical to the growth and viability of small businesses like Black Swift Technologies and serves as a pathway to their future success. Federal Procurement 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. To learn more about this technology, please contact Black Swift Technologies directly

Four Channel Cavity Ringdown NOy Detector

The instrument has lower power, size, weight, and vacuum requirements than a chemiluminescence-based instrument while approaching its sensitivity, precision and time response. In the NOy CRDS instrument of the present invention, NOy and its components are converted into NO2 by thermal decomposition (TD) in a fused silica inlet (henceforth referred to as quartz, following convention), followed by the addition of ozone to convert NO to NO2. NO2 is then measured using a cavity ring-down spectroscopy instrument, utilizing a 405 nm laser. The device may comprise four parallel channels, each driven by the same laser, to measure NO, NO2, NOy and O3, respectively, such that overall NOy may be measured, as well as its components NO, NO2, as well as ozone (O3).