NOAA NOy Instrument (NOAA NOy)


Operated By: 

The NOy instrument has three independent chemiluminescence detectors for simultaneous measurements of NOy, NO2, and NO. Each detector utilizes the reaction between NO in the sample with reagent O3. The NO/O3 reaction produces excited state NO2 which emits light of near 1µ m wavelength. Emitted photons are detected with a cooled photomultiplier tube.

Because NOy species other than NO do not respond in the chemiluminescence detector, NOy component species are reduced to NO by catalytic reduction on a gold surface with carbon monoxide (CO) acting as a reducing agent. Conversion efficiencies are > 90% at surface temperatures of 300°C. An NO signal representing NOy is then detected by chemiluminescence in the detector module. The catalyst is located outside the aircraft fuselage in order to avoid inlet line losses. NO2 is photolytically converted to NO in a glass cell in the presence of intense UV light between 300 and 400 nm. The conversion fraction is > 50% for a residence time of 1 s. The chemiluminescence detector detects NO as well as the additional NO from NO2. The third channel measures NO directly by passing the ambient sample through the detector module.

The response of each detector is checked several times in flight by standard addition of NO or NO2 calibration gas. The baseline of each measurement is determined in part by the addition of synthetic air that contains no reactive nitrogen. A continuous flow of water vapor is added directly to the sample flow in order to reduce the background signal in the detectors.

The sampling inlet for NOy is located outside the fuselage of the aircraft in a separate football-shaped housing. The shape of the housing allows for the inertial separation of large aerosols (> 5 µm diameter) from the NOy inlet at the downstream end of the housing.

Instrument Type: 
ER-2, Balloon
Instrument Team: