EPA Announces Winners of Wildland Fires Sensor Challenge

EPA Announces Winners of Wildland Fires Sensor Challenge

Environmental Protection Agency

Last week, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and its federal partners announced that a Pittsburgh-based group has taken first place in the Wildland Fire Sensors Challenge, a competition that encourages the development of innovative monitoring technologies to measure air pollutants from smoke during wildland fires.

“[These] winners are developing cutting-edge air quality monitoring systems designed to make air measurements during wildfires easier,” said EPA Acting Administrator Andrew Wheeler. “These compact air sensors have the potential to enhance existing regional air monitoring networks and improve the air quality data provided to communities impacted by smoke from fires.”

Jason Gu and Bryan Tomko, with SenSevere/Sensit Technologies in Pittsburgh, and R. Subramanian, with Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, received first place and a $35,000 award. The winners used emerging technologies, including miniaturized direct-reading sensors, compact microprocessors and wireless data communications, to develop prototypes for measuring smoke from wildland fires.

Also announced today were second-place winners Scott Waller and Andrew Smallridge of Thingy LLC, Bellevue, Wash., who received a $25,000 award.  Javier Fernandez of Kunak Technologies in Pamplona, Spain, received honorable mention.

Following rigorous two-phase laboratory testing by the EPA and the U.S. Forest Service (USFS), a panel of technical experts reviewed results. They looked for prototypes that are portable, durable, reliable, and wireless. The experts tested the systems during simulation of wildland fire smoke conditions alongside regulatory monitors. They were also assessed for their ease of use and ability to transmit data over long distances.

The winning systems showed significant promise in their design and could detect fine particulate matter (PM2.5), ozone, carbon monoxide, and carbon dioxide.

This competition generated considerable interest in the sensor technology field and will further accelerate the development of monitoring technology for use during wildland fires.

The EPA’s federal partners in sponsoring this challenge include the USFS, NASA, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and the National Park Service.

For more information, visit: https://www.epa.gov/air-research/winners-wildland-fire-sensors-challenge-develop-air-monitoring-system-prototypes.

The original EPA press release is located on the EPA website, here: https://www.epa.gov/newsreleases/pittsburgh-pa-group-wins-contest-developing-air-quality-monitors-wildland-fire-sensors.

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