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Aeromon takes on emissions from above

This hydrogen sulphide concentration map was enabled in real-time by an Aeromon drone and the cloud platform.Aeromon

This Finnish company deploys sensors on the fly to help analyse emissions patterns in any industrial setting.

Finland may have some of the cleanest air in the world but that doesn’t mean walking down Mäkelänkatu in Helsinki is a fresh breath of air.

In fact, looking up, you may spot a small drone carrying Aeromon’s BH-8 sensor package, finding ‘surprising’ amounts of emissions above the traffic congested street.

“You would expect the gases to dilute when floating up, but due to the turbulence in the air flow, even at 100 metres, there can still be quite a bit of emissions,” says chairman and co-founder of Aeromon, Jouko Salo.

And Aeromon is determined to identify them all. After deploying its airborne sensors, the company uses its cloud-based service to analyse emissions patterns in any industrial setting.

Take off

However, it was one environment in particular that the company focused on as it was getting off the ground back in 2014: ships sailing near the coastline.

Taking inspiration from the TEDGlobal 2013 conference held in Edinburgh, where he witnessed a demonstration on their stabilisation algorithms, “I started thinking that hey, drones with gas sensors would be a cool idea,” Salo recalls.

Drawing on his knowledge as head of technology at Auramarine, a global leader in supplying fuel systems, Salo knew that there was no efficient technology available to enforce emission regulations with ships sailing off the coast.

Founding Aeromon (derived from Airborne Emission Monitoring) in late 2014, Salo assembled a network of maritime industry experts, and has cooperated closely with different research organisations in Finland, to develop the drone-based solution.

Look up! It’s a bird. It’s a plane. No, it’s an Aeromon drone, helping us breath easier. Image: Aeromon

The resultant modular BH-8 sensor package can detect more than 70 different gases and take samples of eight at a time. It then shares the data with Aeromon’s cloud-based analytics platform, where the information is cross-referenced with geographic data and verified.

“All of this is done in a package which weighs under 800 grams, so that it can actually be used with any drone that is robust enough to carry a professional camera,” Salo points out.

Jump on board

Things have since moved swiftly for the company. In 2015, Aeromon tested its equipment as part of the Tekes*-funded Arctic Seas programme. “The aim was to monitor what fuels ships are using when on the sea and showing that drone-based technology can be used for that purpose,” Salo explains.

Turns out it can, so well in fact, that in April 2016, Aeromon was contracted as technology partner for Greek company ALTUS LSA, to monitor shipping emissions Europe-wide for the next two years by the European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA).

Soon after launch, it also became clear that Aeromon’s drone-based solution could be applied to other areas, rather than simply for monitoring shipping emissions.

The drones enabled Aeromon to get its sensors to otherwise unattainable places and even into toxic environments, so the company decided to shift focus onto to the much more comprehensive industrial emission monitoring market, worth several billion euros.

What’s that leaking?

In 2016, Aeromon completed pilots at the Ämmäsuo waste treatment centre with the Helsinki Region Environmental Services Authority (HSY), and at UPM and Gasum industrial sites to measure fugitive emissions.

“The drones and the cloud platform enabled this real-time mapping of oil refineries and gas pipelines and all kinds of infrastructure,” Salo explains. “So that you can see the leaks on the map and pinpoint the sources.”

Aeromon also found one more use for its solution: traffic emission monitoring.

Now Aeromon is focusing on rapid international growth, and with environmental regulations continuously getting stricter across borders and across industries, Aeromon, with its drone-mounted solution, is well positioned to do just that.

*Part of Business Finland since 2018

By: Rasmus Hetemäki