News Release 522

Solar-powered air monitor a first for Missouri

Volume 38-522 (For Immediate Release)
Contact: Larry Archer
573-751-3807

JEFFERSON CITY, MO, SEPT. 3, 2010 -- Sitting quietly on a hill at St. Joe State Park, overlooking the off-road riding area, the newest addition to Missouri’s air monitoring network quietly cycles on and off. There are no power lines overhead supplying electricity for the air monitor and the nearby propane generator is now primarily for emergency back-up use.

The monitor, which is used to measure lead levels in the air, is the first in the state to get its power from a cheaper, cleaner source – the sun.

“This is a big first for Missouri,” said Missouri Department of Natural Resources’ Bill Bryan, director of the department’s Division of State Parks. “Monitoring and protecting the air we breathe is an important part of what we do. Now we are using clean energy to accomplish this task.”

A solar cell collector that will provide power to the air monitor was installed at the site in late July. The solar cells and battery replace a propane powered generator.

The department maintains the state’s air monitors and expects to see a 43 percent or more cost savings in using the solar powered monitor as compared to the propane powered monitor. This is estimated to be at least $35,640 in savings over a five-year period.

“The fact that we are able to switch to solar power and save real money in a relatively short time period is a definite win-win. This goes to show how practical of an option solar power has become,” Bryan said.

The solar cells convert sunlight to energy. This energy powers a motor that draws air through a special filter. Every third day, the sampler is programmed to run to collect an air sample.

Staff at the department’s lab analyze residue on the filter and are able to determine how much lead is in the air. Following analysis of the filters, results from the sampling are posted on the department’s website at dnr.mo.gov/env/esp/aqm/St.JoeStatePark.htm.

The Missouri Department of Natural Resources maintains and collects data from more than 100 air monitors across the state. These monitors check levels on a number of different pollutants, including ozone, carbon monoxide and nitrogen oxides.

More information on Missouri’s air monitoring network is available online at dnr.mo.gov/env/esp/aqm/esp-aqm.htm.

###

Editor: Photo is available at dnr.mo.gov/newsrel/images/P1010095.jpg.