The Aeroqual AQY is a secret no more. Part of a multi-year development project supported by the New Zealand Government, the AQY 1 is the latest product to emerge from our R&D programme. (Article last updated 27 June 2018)
R&D at Aeroqual is all about lowering the size, power, and cost of air quality monitoring devices, and maintaining measurement accuracy. (It’s this last bit that’s tricky, and we like to think we do it best).
Unlike other comparable monitors the AQY 1 delivers high quality data without resorting to correction of data in the cloud. To achieve this the device itself must be smart, all measurement is done on board.
Aeroqual already has a market leading small air quality station (AQM series) and recently introduced a mini air quality station (AQS series). These instruments are for professionals who demand the highest measurement quality from a sensor-based instrument.
The AQY 1 is a semi-professional product designed for small and large networks. It’s full-featured and accurate yet simple to set up and use, and priced to be affordable to a wide range of customers. Our hope is that the AQY 1 will be used not just by our traditional customers (air quality agencies, researchers, and air quality consultants) but also by new types of customers like schools, recreational facilities, and community groups.
We envisage a range of applications for the AQY:
- Mapping pollution sources
- Roadside monitoring networks
- Validating air quality models
- Air quality sensitive industries e.g. data centers
- Building management systems
- Community exposure studies
- Protecting health and safety of students
- Public information and protection
- Smart city grid monitoring.
We’re seeing a huge appetite amongst the public for accurate and reliable air quality information that is measured where people actually live, work and play. That’s exactly why we made the AQY.
What is the AQY?
- Particulate matter (PM2.5 & PM10)
- Ozone (O3)
- Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2)
- Temperature and Relative Humidity
- Dew point
The AQY focuses on the key urban pollutants: particulate matter, ozone and nitrogen dioxide. These are the three main pollutants in most cities, and the pollutants known to have the greatest impact on the people who live in them.
In future we expect to offer additional parameters. The current set of AQY 1 parameters are those which we have tested and have confidence in for outdoor ambient monitoring applications.
The initial release comes with the same software package as our more sophisticated AQM and AQS products. The software is browser-based and allows users to view multiple devices on a map, average data, plot charts with multiple devices and parameters, and manage the devices remotely – trouble-shooting, changing settings, updating firmware.
The AQY 1 communicates wirelessly – WIFI, 4G cellular, and mesh options are all available. The AQY 1 has on board storage to ensure no data ever gets lost. In addition data can be downloaded directly from the instrument if required, which is handy in case you lost your internet connection for example.
Power is mains-supplied via a 12VDC outdoor-friendly plug pack. Solar and battery power is possible though not currently available as a factory-standard option.
The unit mounts to walls, poles or railings using a supplied mounting bracket or simply with cable ties. Weighing approx. 1kg, the AQY 1 is intended to operate in a fixed location yet it can be moved from place to place with relative ease.
What makes it a smart air quality monitor?
To meet a semi-professional price point we’ve had to reduce cost and complexity compared to our premium AQS and AQM products. The number of bespoke operating components has been greatly pared back to make the AQY fit for purpose; there’s no heating or cooling of the enclosure, for example, and no mechanical scrubbing elements. We removed pumped sampling in favour of active fan-sampling (as seen in our range of portable monitors).
Fans of our ozone sensors will be pleased to know that we’re still using our patented world class GSS ozone sensor. Outside of the AQM and AQS products, the GSS ozone sensor still performs extremely well as various independent evaluations have shown (for example, the following study by the US EPA).
The NO2 measurement is also unique. We’re using our selective ozone sensor to correct for ozone interference on the electrochemical NO2 sensor (a technique patented by Aeroqual). What this means is that the AQY delivers a real NO2 measurement rather than an approximation of NO2 as delivered by all other devices that use an electrochemical NO2 sensor. This is because all electrochemical NO2 sensors are cross sensitive to ozone, and all electrochemical ozone sensors are cross sensitive to NO2. Because we use a GSS ozone sensor which is highly selective to ozone, it allows us to use this technique to provide a highly accurate NO2 measurement. The algorithm is embedded in the device itself and occurs in real-time.
The particulate matter measurement is delivered by an optical particle counter which uses a well-known light scattering method to size and count particles and then convert them to a mass fraction. In humid conditions light scattering is susceptible to humidity artefacts which over-report particulate levels due to ‘fogging’ where the particles are encapsulated by moisture and appear larger to the sensor than they actually are. We correct for this effect by way of a humidity correction algorithm.
The AQY does all measurement on the instrument; there is no correction of the data on the cloud. We believe this ensures the integrity of the data and helps to maintain confidence in the measurement. It is also in keeping with the IoT trend for increased ‘processing at the edge’.
AQY sensor performance
Measurement performance is all important to us. The system has been tested in a range of environments: New Zealand (very low pollutant levels), Beijing (very high pollution levels), Southern China (high humidity and temperature), as well as Los Angeles (a bit of everything).
The following data is taken from out tests in Los Angeles. Further data is available upon request.