Power Plants on the Japanese island of Shikoku
Photo compliments of Dr. Simone Aloisio
While some might choose to take a Caribbean Cruise or ski the Alps if granted a sabbatical, you can’t say the same for Dr. Simone Aloisio, associate professor in the Chemistry department at CI. Aloisio has been hard at work this semester performing data analysis for a research project being done on the Japanese island of Shikoku aimed to develop a new cheap, effective way of measuring column carbon dioxide (CO2).

Dr. Aloisio and his colleagues Prof. Gen Inoue and Prof. Masahiro Kawasaki are hoping to determine the CO2 emissions from two power plants (no, not Fukushima) using an instrument meant to measure CO2 emissions from a specific point source. “The reason for doing this particular project,” Aloisio stated, “is to be able to measure the amount of CO2 emitted directly from a regional source, such as a power plant or a fire.” In the past this task has been a difficult feat for scientists to achieve.

The newly developed instrument used in the project measures overhead atmospheric carbon dioxide. Aloisio explained “the instrument collects infrared light from the sun in a region of the spectrum where CO2 absorbs light.” A distinctive feature of this particular machine Aloisio stated in his progress report, “is how the absorbing and non-absorbing wavelengths are obtained.” He said the “instrument uses a series of filters including an etalon filter to restrict the wavelengths of light detected.” The concentration of CO2 is determined by fitting the transmittance to a simulated spectrum. Aloisio’s contribution to the experiment involved adjusting the simulation routines to reflect only CO2 emissions and eliminate interference from water in the atmosphere. 

CO2, one of the primary greenhouse gases, is the main cause of global warming on our planet. Human actions such as the burning of fossil fuels are considerably increasing the CO2 concentration in the atmosphere. When Aloisio returns to the United States on April 25th he and his colleagues will have taken us one step closer to understanding the climate change that the planet earth is currently undergoing and what we can do to stop it.