Picarro, Inc

Picarro Releases Highly Anticipated Isotope Analyzer for Nitrous Oxide


Source: Picarro, Inc

Instrument Will Give Scientists Deeper Insight into Links Between Agricultural Practices, Climate Change and the Global Nitrogen Cycle

SANTA CLARA, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)-- Picarro Inc., known as the world’s leading provider of instruments for carbon and water cycle measurements, has expanded its product line with a new, high precision analyzer, model G5101-i, for measuring nitrous oxide (N2O) in the air. N2O is a principal component in the global nitrogen cycle, which is of growing interest to scientists due to its interconnection with natural ecosystems, agriculture, and climate. The G5101-i, first launched in beta in December 2009,is an ultra-high precision instrument that can reliably measure the concentration of nitrous oxide in the air and distinguish between the two site-specific nitrogen isotopomers, 14N15N16O and 15N14N16O, at a precision better than 0.5 per mil. The ability to precisely measure these isotopomers allows scientists to fingerprint N2O sources and decode critical processes in the nitrogen cycle. The G5101-i completes a line of Picarro’s industry-leading isotopic measurement instruments that enable scientists to easily and accurately measure the four most critical greenhouse gases: carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4), water vapor (H2O) and nitrous oxide (N2O).

As the world’s population grows, understanding nitrogen cycles will become increasingly important in managing land, water, and fertilizer usage and combatting global warming. Since 1750, atmospheric N2O levels have risen 20 percent – from less than 270 parts per billion (ppb) to more than 320 ppb. Scientists have now determined through isotopic data that the N2O increase in the atmosphere is directly linked to the increase in fertilizer use.1 N2O, which is emitted throughout the nitrogen cycle, has 298 times the global warming potential of carbon dioxide (CO2) over a one hundred year period.2 In addition to its impact on the climate, N2O also destroys stratospheric ozone, which protects the planet from harmful ultraviolet rays.3

The G5101-i is of particular value to scientists because it enables them to make stable and precise measurements continuously from the air or from small-volume samples, such as those collected from soil or water extractions. This gives scientists the flexibility to conduct their research and gather real-time data whether in the field or the lab.

“Many of our customers have been eagerly awaiting the release of the G5101-i because it is vital in supporting their research on a number of critical projects,” said Michael Woelk, CEO of Picarro. “Developing a stable, high performance nitrous oxide analyzer has been both fascinating and challenging due to the complexity of the science involved. In addition, the G5101-i had to pass our own very rigorous quality and performance standards. This is why we are especially proud to bring this instrument to market and to address the diverse needs of the leading scientists with which we work.”

The G5101-i is the first analyzer in Picarro’s product line that operates in the region of the electromagnetic spectrum known as the “mid-infrared range” or “mid-IR”. Advancements in emerging mid-IR quantum cascade laser technology now enable detection of new compounds and isotopes at previously unattainable levels of precision. The G5101-i combines mid-IR lasers and detectors with Picarro's proven wavelength monitor and patented cavity ring-down spectroscopy (CRDS) technology. The combination allows trace detection of minute changes in molecular concentration without interference from other common atmospheric molecules.It also provides low drift performance at a level of sensitivity that is unmatched by traditional absorption-based systems.

Reaching this level of precision has been particularly challenging to engineers given that many of the mid-IR optical components used in the G5101-i have only recently become available. Further, validation testing of the instrument has been a lengthy process as Picarro endeavors to provide a certificate of compliance with each instrument, guaranteeing that every stated performance parameter has been tested and verified, including specifications on precision, drift, shock, vibration, thermal sensitivity, gas flow rate and measurement rate.

Picarro’s full line of analyzers are operating in 58 countries in diverse scientific and industrial applications, including air quality, atmospheric science, greenhouse gas measurement, energy exploration, gas leak detection, oceanography, hydrology, food traceability and others. The major environmental and isotope networks around the world use Picarro analyzers, some with networks comprised of hundreds of instruments, including Earth Networks, CMA in China, ICOS in Europe, NEON, WMO-GAW and INFLUX. Picarro’s are the analyzers of choice among leading scientists at world-class institutions, including Harvard, Nanjing, and Stanford Universities; Australia’s CSIRO; the China Meteorological Administration; LSCE, NASA, and NOAA; top government regulatory agencies, including the German, Irish, and U.S. Environmental Protection Agencies; and in industrial applications by Alcan, Eli Lilly, Pacific Gas and Electric, and Waste Management Inc.

About Picarro

Picarro, Inc. is the world’s leading producer of greenhouse gas and optical stable isotope measurement instruments for a wide variety of scientific and industrial applications, including environmental, atmospheric, energy, life science, and food testing. Picarro analyzers are manufactured at the company's Santa Clara, California headquarters and exported to countries worldwide. Picarro’s products are based on more than two-dozen patents related to cavity ring-down spectroscopy (CRDS) technology. Investors include Benchmark Capital, Greylock Partners, and DAG Ventures.

1 UC Berkeley News Center. http://newscenter.berkeley.edu/2012/04/02/fertilizer-use-responsible-for-increase-in-nitrous-oxide-in-atmosphere/

2 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Fourth Assessment Report (SAR), 2007. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Fourth Assessment Report (SAR), 2007. http://www.ipcc.ch/publications_and_data/ar4/wg1/en/ch2s2-10-2.html


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