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New technology monitors air quality in cities

TNO, Airbus DS NL and S&T cooperate in research project • 05 Jul 2019

TNO, Airbus Defence and Space Netherlands and S&T are taking a collaborative initiative to develop innovative technologies that cities around the world can use to monitor air quality. The project aims to better predict the presence of air pollutants such as nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and particulate matter (PM) by means of satellite data and model-based forecasting systems.

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(Source: KNMI Tropomi)

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), air pollution is responsible for the premature deaths of 7 million people per year. 91% of the world’s population lives in areas where the level of air pollution is above WHO limits. Urban areas are particular areas of concern. Satellite data, for example from the Dutch earth observation instrument Tropomi, reveals NO2 concentrations in cities in the west of the Netherlands to be among the highest in Europe.

Anton Leemhuis of TNO: "Air pollution and climate change are urgent social problems. In this project we show that satellite measurements of the atmosphere offer great opportunities to tackle this."

The project makes use of the LOTOS EUROS-model to predict the air quality for an area of three square kilometres or less on the basis of satellite data. TNO’s TOPAS-system is used to show which activities contribute most to air pollution (e.g. road transport, power stations, homes) and what geographical locations it originates from. Airbus DS NL and S&T will use such data in services to municipalities and public authorities, for example via S&T’s AirPortal software.

"Services based on satellite data for monitoring air quality and climate gases are developing at lightning speed. We are delighted that with LOTOS-EUROS we can further develop our expertise together with TNO and S&T," says Arnaud de Jong, CEO of Airbus Defence and Space Netherlands, “First of all, we will make the new technology operational for the Randstad area and the Delhi region in India. A strong connection between the service and customer demand is essential, which we will make possible by facilitating an intensive customer dialogue with a focus now on these first two regions.”

Erik Zoutman of S&T adds:  "During our discussions with the users of AIR-Portal, we found out that insight into the sources of pollution that that contribute to air pollution in a municipality is of great value in ascertaining the effectiveness of policy. This research project will help improve AIR-Portal in this respect."

The joint research project is being supported by the Dutch top sector High Tech Systems & Materials (TKI).

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