$3M Dpt. of Energy Grant Awarded to Design 'NitroNet' for SMARTFARM

The project has the potential to transform the emissions assessment of farms. N2O is an extremely powerful greenhouse gas, with an environmental impact of 300:1 when comparing one pound of N2O to one pound of CO2.1 A large portion of the N2O in the atmosphere is emitted indirectly, and with large variability in space and time, as a byproduct of fertilization of croplands.

Mark Zondlo, a Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Princeton University and the Director of Graduate Studies, Intelligent Material Solutions, Inc. (IMS), an innovator in the field of optical materials and detectors, Paige Wireless, a creator of reliable and effective connectivity, and Slant Range, a leader in advanced agriculture technology, received an award of a DOE ARPA-E grant.


Titled, "NitroNet: Smart System to Quantify Nitrous Oxide Emissions," the project entails an autonomous sensing system intended to non-disruptively monitor fields for nitrous oxide (N2O) emissions over a complete growing season. This award is part of the SMARTFARM program, which is dedicated to improving data collection in the biofuel supply chain.

The project has the potential to transform the emissions assessment of farms. N2O is an extremely powerful greenhouse gas, with an environmental impact of 300:1 when comparing one pound of N2O to one pound of CO2.1 A large portion of the N2O in the atmosphere is emitted indirectly, and with large variability in space and time, as a byproduct of fertilization of croplands.

By quantitatively totaling the loss of nitrogen over a growing season, the research may enable producers to make informed decisions about practices that mitigate the harmful environmental and climate impacts of agricultural crop production. The system provides the promising opportunity to impact the U.S.'s security as a leader in agricultural sustainability, incentivize and monetize emission reductions for farmers, and enable participation of producers in carbon management markets.

The system, NitroNet, uses eye-safe mid infrared lasers, ultra-sensitive detectors, and inexpensive reflectors to cast a 'net' over a field to map N2O emissions at high temporal and spatial resolutions. Validation of the monitoring will be accomplished using a compact pilotless drone and subsequent data compared with established monitoring approaches.

"What is unique about NitroNet is that it is a continuous, unattended 24/7 system that does not interfere with the farmers' operation, and yet the information will allow farmers to monetize their efforts to reduce their climatic footprint. It is a 'win-win' for both agriculture and the environment," said Professor Zondlo.

IMS is a material science and technology company that develops rare-earth crystals, as well as custom sensors. The company has a portfolio of patents around rare-earth crystals covering devices, methods, systems, and composition of matter. IMS products have applications in quantum/optical computing, life science - diagnostics/therapeutic/imaging, authentication, transportation, defense, and agriculture. The company is based out of Princeton, NJ in the iconic RCA/Sarnoff Building. For more information on IMS, visit: https://www.intelligentmaterial.com.

Professor Zondlo heads the Atmospheric Chemistry and Composition Group at Princeton University. For more information on Professor Zondlo and the Zondlo Research Group, visit: http://zondlo.princeton.edu/.

Paige Wireless is the largest, contiguous carrier- grade LoRaWAN network in North America with a focus on bringing connectivity solutions to currently under-served industrial verticals. The company helps businesses, communities, and the nation's farmers leverage technology for remote data collection, automating tasks, security and asset management, resource control, observation, installations, and much more.

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