Southwest Sciences proposes to develop a real time, compact laser-based ethylene gas analyzer with a detection sensitivity of 25 parts-per-billion by volume or better. Ethylene monitoring and control is important to plant growth and health in closed growth chambers such as would be needed for future long-term, manned missions. The analyzer will be fully autonomous and uses newly available, low power diode lasers that operate in the mid-infrared spectral region. The innovation is a novel cavity enhanced spectroscopy method invented at Southwest Sciences that will make the system smaller and more sensitive than conventional tunable diode laser spectroscopy.
Phase I and II will result in an analyzer for ethylene, critical for monitoring and managing plant growth in space for the ISS and long-term missions. The instrument platform could be adapted for measurement of other environmentally important trace species for space missions and on Earth (including ammonia, carbon monoxide, hydrocarbon gases, water vapor, carbon dioxide, and sulfur species).
The primary commercial markets for trace gas ethylene monitoring are agriculture and food industries. High density greenhouse operations need an indication of high ethylene concentrations to manage plant health and productivity. Produce storage requires low levels of ethylene to delay ripening or prevent spoilage.