19.10.2022

Tracking Greenhouse Gas Emissions

First Argentinian aerosol research flight expedition from Patagonia to Alaska

The flight expedition to measure the concentration of soot particles started in Ushuaia, Argentina.

Two Argentinians have made their dream come true by flying from Patagonia to Alaska in their self-constructed airplane named Correcaminos. Equipped with the Magee Scientific Aethalometer model AE43 from the Slovenian KNF customer Aerosol Co. from Ljubljana (Slovenia) the team was measuring the concentration of soot aerosols throughout the flight.

This project has provided valuable data on climate change and greenhouse gases.

Experimental aircraft equipped with air pollution instrumentation

The Patagonia-Alaska project: two pilots – Juan Martín Escobar and Guillermo Casamayú – with their self-constructed airplane Correcaminos and a black carbon measuring device. The aim: an adventurous flight from one end of the continent to the other during which they continuously measured the concentration of soot particles at an altitude of 2,500 m.

 

Their route covered 40,000 kilometers in 150 flight hours across 22 countries – from the southernmost city of the world, Ushuaia in Patagonia, to Alaska. Flying the entire length of South, Middle and North America, the pilots had a diaphragm gas pump from KNF on board, incorporated into the Magee Scientific Aethalometer model AE43.

The two initiators and pilots of the project, Juan Martín Escobar and Guillermo Casamayú, in front of their airplane. Photo credit: © Juan Martín Escobar / Guillermo Casamayú
The two initiators and pilots of the project, Juan Martín Escobar and Guillermo Casamayú, in front of their airplane. Photo credit: © Juan Martín Escobar / Guillermo Casamayú
Juan Martín Escobar and Guillermo Casamayú have constructed the airplane themselves. Photo credit: © Juan Martín Escobar / Guillermo Casamayú
Juan Martín Escobar and Guillermo Casamayú have constructed the airplane themselves. Photo credit: © Juan Martín Escobar / Guillermo Casamayú

Aethalometer to measure black carbon

Aethalometers are the most widely used tools for monitoring black carbon aerosols in the air. The analysis of carbon fluxes and aerosols facilitates conclusions on climate-relevant chemical and physical processes.

 

The Magee Scientific Aethalometer model AE43 was developed by the Slovenian KNF customer Aerosol Co., who has partnered with the Patagonia-Alaska project providing this important measuring device along with valuable expertise.

Magee Scientific Aethalometer model AE43 produced by Aerosol Co. measured the concentration of soot particles at an altitude of 2,500 m along the entire journey from Patagonia to Alaska. Photo credit: © Aerosol Co.
Magee Scientific Aethalometer model AE43 produced by Aerosol Co. measured the concentration of soot particles at an altitude of 2,500 m along the entire journey from Patagonia to Alaska. Photo credit: © Aerosol Co.

Air sampling at an altitude of 2,500 meters with low-maintenance diaphragm pump

The right wing of the two seater plane was fitted with an additional pitot tube to enable the measurement of black carbon. While pitot tubes normally measure the total pressure of an airplane to determine its speed, this second pitot tube collected air samples at an altitude of 2,500 m.

 

These samples were then transferred to the Magee Scientific Aethalometer model AE43, which was located in a device behind the seats of the small airplane.

 

Inside the measuring device, an N 86 diaphragm gas pump from KNF continuously transferred a predefined volume of air to the device’s analysis unit. This low-maintenance pump has ensured that samples could be taken and analyzed throughout the flight north.

Incorporated into the Magee Scientific Aethalometer model AE43 soot particle measuring device, KNF’s N 86 diaphragm gas pump is a reliable tool for aerosol research.
Incorporated into the Magee Scientific Aethalometer model AE43 soot particle measuring device, KNF’s N 86 diaphragm gas pump is a reliable tool for aerosol research.

Ahead of their great trip, the two pilots and their project partners had tested the airplane, the measuring device and the sampling process on a number of test flights across Patagonia.

 

Juan Martín Escobar and Guillermo Casamayú embark on their aerosol measuring flight from Patagonia to Alaska in their self-constructed two seater plane. Photo credit: © Juan Martín Escobar / Guillermo Casamayú
Juan Martín Escobar and Guillermo Casamayú embark on their aerosol measuring flight from Patagonia to Alaska in their self-constructed two seater plane. Photo credit: © Juan Martín Escobar / Guillermo Casamayú

Apart from Aerosol Co., the Argentinian meteorological service SMN (Servicio Meteorológico Nacional) and the National University of Patagonia were involved as project partners.

Successful end of the first Argentinian flight expedition

On July 10, Correcaminos landed in Fort Lauderdale, USA. Following some minor technical difficulties, which the Internet community helped resolve, the pilots continued further north from here.

 

Finally, three days later the team fulfilled their objective and arrived in Alaska. Part of the route of their return flight followed that of the Pan-American Highway.

 

The analysis of the results of the measurements along this route should provide interesting insights into the highway’s effect on climate change.

 

Meanwhile, the pilots are offsetting their own carbon footprint by planting 1,000 trees in their home region.

 

View from the measuring airplane across the Amazon. Photo credit: © Juan Martín Escobar / Guillermo Casamayú
View from the measuring airplane across the Amazon. Photo credit: © Juan Martín Escobar / Guillermo Casamayú

KNF had wished the two pilots the best of luck with their ambitious Patagonia-Alaska project. We are very proud to see our pumps supported the project and made an important contribution to researching carbon aerosols and their role in climate change.

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