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Two Small Businesses in Massachusetts Get Grants for Innovative Research

Release Date: 06/14/2005
Contact Information:

Contact: Sheryl Rosner, EPA Office of Public Affairs, (617) 918-1865,

For Immediate Release: June 14, 2005; Release # sr050610

Two Massachusetts companies have each received $225,000 from a US Environmental Protection Agency program that recognizes small businesses doing innovative work, Robert W. Varney, regional administrator of EPA’s New England office, announced today.

Aerodyne Research Inc. of Billerica and Physical Sciences Inc. of Andover each received the funding from EPA’s Small Business Innovation Research program. Aerodyne and Physical Sciences were among 14 companies who received a total of $3.1. million. They were chosen from 37 applicants across the country.

“These companies do the kind of cutting edge work that helps us find new ways to protect our environment,” Varney said. “EPA is proud to be able to support such innovative research in the environmental field.”

Researchers at Aerodyne Inc. will develop a simple, modestly-priced tool to routinely monitor local and regional air quality. The instrument could be used to continuously monitor emissions at hazardous waste incinerators, power plants and manufacturing facilities. In addition, it could provide information for studies on air pollution, the health effects of particulate matter, engine design and other research areas requiring aerosol measurements.

Aerodyne’s monitor will be designed to run for extended periods without any expensive post-processing analysis. It will measure and classify inorganic (ammonium, nitrate, sulfate, chloride) and organic particles (combustion and other compounds) in real time.

“This award will enable us to develop a more compact and less expensive version of our research grade aerosol mass spectrometer that can be deployed at both local air quality monitoring sites and industrial facilities to analyze fine particle pollutants in real-time, allowing faster reporting of unhealthful air and better control of emission sources,” said Charles Kolb, Aerodyne's CEO. “Research versions of our AMS are deployed in more than 30 leading atmospheric science laboratories around the world and last year the AMS won awards recognizing its major impact in understanding airborne particle pollution from both the American Meteorological Society and the American Association for Aerosol Research. With EPA's support we hope to bring that level of insight to real-time continuous pollution monitoring at key sites around the US."

Researchers at Physical Sciences Inc. are developing a monitor that will identify and measure all the metals on EPA’s hazardous air pollutants list. The monitor could be used to help with permitting of large air pollution sources under Clean Air Act amendments that require all major sources of air pollution to establish operating permits.

“Work so far has shown that Physical Science’s technology can detect metals such as lead, chromium and cadmium in airborne particles,” explained Amy Bauer, principal research scientist at PSI. “These metals emit light in the visible range after exposure to a pulsed plasma. To measure the remainder of the metallic hazardous air pollutants, however, Physical Science researchers will develop a technology to detect metals such as arsenic and selenium that emit in the deep ultraviolet range after plasma excitation. The instrument will help large air pollution sources, such as incinerators and power plants, meet their EPA obligations to monitor and report their emissions. The monitor will operate in real time, an improvement over the method now used, a technique that is slow, labor intensive and not amenable to automation."

Some 22 million small businesses in the US employ about 51 percent of the private work force and develop most of the country’s new technologies. Years ago, Congress recognized the need to strengthen the role of small businesses in federally funded research and development and passed a law creating the Small Business Innovation Research program for businesses with no more than 500 employees. This program offers critical financial support to small businesses so they can develop the best new innovative technologies.

The small business program focuses on important areas related to environmental protection, including clean air and water, hazardous and solid wastes, pollution prevention, remediation and monitoring. Recent issues include homeland security, clean-up technologies and technology solutions for specific environmental needs.

EPA plans to award some $2.8 million in contracts of some $70,000 each in the coming year. To learn more see:

Related Information:
Center for Environmental Innovation and Technology (CEIT)