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Discussion papers | Copyright
https://doi.org/10.5194/amt-2018-277
© Author(s) 2018. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Research article 14 Sep 2018

Research article | 14 Sep 2018

Review status
This discussion paper is a preprint. It is a manuscript under review for the journal Atmospheric Measurement Techniques (AMT).

A sampler for atmospheric volatile organic compounds by copter unmanned aerial vehicles

Karena A. McKinney1,2, Daniel Wang2, Jianhuai Ye2, Jean-Baptiste de Fouchier2, Patricia C. Guimarães3,4, Carla E. Batista3,4, Rodrigo A. F. Souza3,4, Eliane G. Alves3,5, Dasa Gu6, Alex B. Guenther6, and Scot T. Martin2,7 Karena A. McKinney et al.
  • 1Department of Chemistry, Colby College, Waterville, Maine, 04901, USA
  • 2School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts, 02138, USA
  • 3Post-graduate Program in Climate and Environment, National Institute of Amazonia Research and Amazonas State University, Manaus, Amazonas, 69060-001, Brazil
  • 4School of Technology, Amazonas State University, 69065-020, Manaus, Amazonas, Brazil
  • 5Department of Biogeochemical Processes, Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry, Jena, Germany
  • 6Department of Earth System Science, University of California, Irvine, California, 92697, USA
  • 7Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts, 02138, USA

Abstract. A sampler for volatile organic compounds (VOCs) was developed for deployment on a copter-technology unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV). The sampler was designed to collect VOCs on up to five commercially available VOC-adsorbent cartridges for subsequent offline analysis by thermal-desorption gas chromatography. The sampler had a mass of 0.90kg and dimensions of 19cm × 20cm × 5cm. Power consumption was <3Wh in a typical 30min flight, representing <3% of the total UAV battery capacity. Autonomous sampler operation and data collection in flight were accomplished with a microcontroller. Sampling flows of 100 to 400sccm were possible, and a typical flow of 150sccm was used to balance VOC capture efficiency with sample volume. The overall minimum detection limit for the sampling volumes and the analytical method was close to 2ppt for isoprene and monoterpenes. The sampler was mounted to a commercially available UAV and flown in August 2017 over tropical forest in central Amazonia. Samples were collected sequentially for 10min each at several different altitude-latitude-longitude collection points. The species identified, their concentrations, and their uncertainties are presented and discussed in the context of the sampler design and capabilities. Finally, design challenges and possibilities for next-generation samplers are addressed.

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Short summary
Volatile organic compound (VOC) emissions influence air quality and particulate distributions, particularly in major source regions such as the Amazon. A sampler for collecting VOCs from an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) is described. Field tests of its performance and an initial example data set collected in the Amazon are also presented. The low cost, ease of use, and maneuverability of UAVs give this method the potential to significantly advance knowledge of the spatial distribution of VOCs.
Volatile organic compound (VOC) emissions influence air quality and particulate distributions,...
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