Sunnyvale, CA - Picarro Inc. has won the coveted R&D 100 award for 2008 with their G1101-i Isotopic CO2 Analyzer. Dubbed the "Oscars of Invention" by the Chicago Tribune, the R&D Awards are presented annually by the editors of R&D, a unique, broad-spectrum publication covering technical innovations in industry, universities and government/national labs. Specifically, the awards recognize the "100 most technologically significant new products and processes of the year" in applications as diverse as environmental, life sciences, pharma, metrology, semiconductor and nanotechnology.
Based on Picarro's novel WS-CRDS (wavelength-scanned cavity ring down spectroscopy) technology, the G1101-i is the first simple instrument to deliver highly accurate 13C/12C ratios. Applications include greenhouse gas monitoring (from sources to sinks), environmental analysis (waste water and solids), and energy exploration (e.g. total organic carbon analysis from mud gas cores). Most importantly, this portable and rugged instrument enables measurement not just in the laboratory, but also at remote locations, such as sequestration sites. For greenhouse gas and other environmental applications, these δ13C ratios provide powerful source information since every different type of carbon dioxide source (e.g., burning fossil fuels, plant photosynthesis) has a well-known and unique value of δ13C.
As way of background, before the advent of WS-CRDS, the only proven analytical method of deriving δ13C was to use an instrument called an IR-MS (isotope ratio mass spectrometer). This is a non-portable instrument, intended solely for laboratory use. It is over ten times larger and heavier than the G1101-i, typically costs five to ten times as much, and requires the presence of a trained operator.
"Tracking isotope ratios has long been recognized as a powerful tool in a wide range of scientific disciplines, but the practical limitations and high cost of obtaining this data has previously limited its use to just a few applications. This new instrument now makes this data incredibly accessible," notes Eric Crosson, Picarro CTO. "For example, we are particularly excited about the ability to simultaneously quantify CO2 levels in situ, and to identify their sources, since we believe this will be a critical aspect of managing greenhouse gas levels, all the way from sources to sinks." The G1101-i is already being deployed in applications as diverse as sequestration site evaluation, mud-gas analysis, life science research, plant canopy monitoring, and emissions verification for carbon-credit purposes.