Press Releases

Picarro Gas Analyzer Pinpoints Types and Origins of CO2 Emissions

Sunnyvale, CA -- Picarro, Inc. has debuted a unique ultra-trace gas analyzer for precisely measuring Isotopic CO2, a marker of the type of CO2 and its origin. The instrument is based on cavity ring down spectroscopy (CRDS) technology exclusively licensed from Stanford University, and further enhanced at Picarro.

Picarro's CRDS analyzers deliver parts-per-billion to parts-per-trillion gas sensitivity at high speed and without interference to meet the requirements of the most demanding applications. The Isotopic CO2 application was originally developed for the Los Alamos National Laboratory where the instruments are used to study CO2 ratios and concentration in plants and the atmosphere.

Fast response, continuous isotope measurement systems allow us to better understand CO2 flow through ecosystems, water usage, the biochemistry of plants, and in a multitude of other temporal and spatial studies, says Dr. Nate McDowell, Earth and Environmental Sciences Division, Atmospheric and Environmental Dynamics Group, Los Alamos National Laboratory.

Many studies of plant, ecosystem and global carbon and water cycling are based on a number of assumptions because we could never before analyze stable isotopes of CO2 or water rapidly and continuously. With this analyzer, we can get fast and continuous results which will allow studies to be based on facts.

Additional applications for Isotopic CO2 systems include monitoring of carbon sequestration programs and measuring mud-gas samples collected during the natural gas exploration process. Carbon sequestration is a process of capturing carbon emissions from power plants, compressing them, and putting them underground instead of into the atmosphere. Mud-gas analysis is done to help energy service providers pinpoint the quality and potential quantity of natural gases.

The new analyzer incorporates a platform first introduced by Picarro in 2005. It measures single spectral features in a compact flow cell with an effective path length of up to 12 kilometers which produces huge advantages in sensitivity, selectivity, precision, and data quality. It is an exceptionally rugged analyzer, making it ideal for deployment in any environment. The instruments are essentially drift and maintenance free, and require no consumables, potentially offering significant ease of use and cost of ownership benefits for customers.

Picarro's CRDS analyzers are an emerging platform for trace isotopic measurements, particularly for scientists who wish to measure closer to the point of sample origin. says Michael Woelk, President and CEO of Picarro. Compared to isotopic ratio mass spectrometers, our instruments are considerably smaller, exceptionally simple to run, and inexpensive to operate. We designed our instruments to run unattended for days on end in some pretty remote locations making them an ideal solution for both field-based and laboratory-based applications.

The Picarro analyzer for Isotopic CO2 was first demonstrated to the public at the American Geophysical Union meeting in fall of 2007. It was shown at The IFPAC Annual Meeting on Process Technology in Baltimore, MD from January 27-30, 2008 and will be shown at PITTCON, in New Orleans, LA from March 3-6, 2008.