With all the advances in pollutants detecting technology, we still don't know exactly what is the quality of air we breathe in the big cities of the world. Air pollution in the big cities is the cause of more victims and suffering that terrorism and wars combined! Still this silent killer is often accepted as one of the downsides of a modern prosperous life. I had this idea while working for a company that used to build (still does I think) gas analysers for the oil and gas industry. Some may imagine a standard hand held gas analyser but that isn't the case here. These were big rigs, some weighing several tons and as long as a house, to be fitted on oil platforms and land based natural gas extraction systems for example. Of course this company made from the money from the industry that supplies the polluting fossil fuels, but they also built smaller gas analysis systems for the automotive emissions detection and air quality monitoring markets as well. One of the customers asked for a mobile natural gas detection system, mounted on a trailer that could be lorried around, which was an unusual request since most of our systems were fixed ones. While working on this, the thought struck me, what if we could have a mobile air quality detection system, which will fit inside the trunk of a small vehicle? I knew we built systems of that size and some the high performance analysers could be integrated in a system that could fit in the trunk of a Tesla model S car! It was obvious from the start that an electric car like the Tesla would be the ideal carrier for this kind of project. Let's look at the advantages. It's fully electric so it doesn't have any emmisons that could interfere and bias the analysers. There is plenty of room onside the trunks to fit any system of that size and purpose. The analysers run on electricity so we got plenty of that. And the car has a powerful computer on board which can deal with any amount of information that our system will pump into it. Also the wireless and mobile Internet connectivity of the car will make sure the information about air quality will be on the screen of your mobile phone as soon as it's sampled and measured by our system.
How much will this all cost? Well we have the cost of the Tesla which is about 100k £, plus the fost of the analysis system which can be up to 200k£ depending on the analysers. We want to develop a mobile app that will be able to present the data to the final users in a clear and easy way to understand, and fun to use as well. There will be some running costs of the program, which can work out to about 50k £ per car, but this will be the subject of another funding initiative, if we manage to integrate the analysers with the Tesla, and if we have a stable working platform. The main area of focus will be the city of London, which on a typical day is transited by several millions of people, pedestrian and motorists alike. The details of the covered areas, routes, schedules remain to be worked out in the second part of the project, after the analysis rig is built, tested and fully functional. Of course depending on the popularity of this initiative, we will consider replicating the air quality detection vehicle and expanding the program to other metropolis as well. Of course this kind of project is all about raising awareness so the people will know exactly where the bad air areas are, and what they should avoid. Charting the air polution map of an entire city is a grand challenge but this is one way step forward to do it!