Iso Drone - GAs Sampling with UAV

Currently sampling of the atmosphere for gas emission measurements has to be done by building towers or hiring airplanes - capital-intensive methods. Easy access to unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) has opened-up new opportunities for remote gas sampling (e.g. greenhouse gases, VOCs and water vapour). The projects aim is to develop and produce modular UAV-based gas monitoring systems for emission and isotope measurements to substitute current technologies.

PROJECT ISO-2-DRONE (2018-2021): UAV-based gas monitoring systems for the underpinning of urban, agricultural and industrial emission roadmaps

Phantom Drone
Phantom Drone

In Iso-2-Drone we will (1) further develop passive and active air samplers (2) construct and test a universal UAV connector and swarm technologies (3) make adaptations to UAVs (baffles) and mesh this system to commercially available stable isotope instrumentation to create a new product and service proposition. The system will be evaluated, optimized and commercial casings developed to compliment user-friendly protocols for the sampling and measurement of major and minor atmospheric compounds (CO2, N2O, CH4 and volatile organic compounds).


Principal Investigators: Florian Mayer (CombInnoTec / VSI), Andrea Watzinger (BOKU).

Project Partners - ISO-2-DRONE

Funding Source - DRone-2-ISo

Call: Beyond Europe - Cooperative R&D Projects "Experimental Development"

Funded by: Austrian Research Promotion Agency (FFG), Sensengasse 1, 1090 Wien, Austria

PROJECTS IsoDrone and H20-Drone (2015-2016) - Testing the Possibility of measuring Stable Isotope Ratios of Carbon Dioxide (FFG) and Water Vapour (FAO/IAEA) at Ambient Air Concentrations

Measuring the isotopic signature of carbon dioxide above an ecosystem reveals crucial information about the way in which the ecosystem in functioning and the balance between carbon sequestration and carbon flux. In this research we intend to develop test the ability of a gas sampling device developed by CombInnoTec to deliver reliable isotopic signatures of carbon dioxide fluxes, at different heights above the ecosystem canopy; a device that can be easily mounted on a commercially available drone or blimp or deployed within the canopy for automatic sampling (referred to from herein as drone based system).

  • Overview on RESULTS of CASE STUDY: A good agreement between the µl CO2 and peak area off the FID with an R² = 0.972 was found - this suggests that FID could be used to measure the CO2 concentration in ambient gas samples and that we could get sufficiently accurate CO2 data necessary for the Keeling plot measurement. In principle the developed system was able to detect sufficient quantities of CO2 with isotopic measurements with an adequate precision.  This suggests the system could be retrofitted to accommodate the 12 ml gas tight vials that we have identified as the most cost effective and suitable for UAV-based sampling system. This requires that we move away from the current purge and trap system to a direct injection method, this would save considerable machine time (down from 20 minutes per sample to 7 minutes per sample measurement) and resources in terms of liquid nitrogen etc. It would also mean that we would have opportunity for repeated measurement of samples which might be issue to be taken into consideration.

Stable isotope values of carbon dioxide in ambient air, in the sample volumes we intend to collect via UAV were measured with sufficient accuracy and precision for the construction of Keeling plots.  Therefore the further development of an Iso-drone system for monitoring CO2 fluxes in urban and natural environments was rated as a viable and feasible technology to develop further. 

Principal Investigators: Florian Mayer (CombInnoTec / VSI), Rebecca Hood-Nowotny (AIT).

Project Partners - IsoDrone / H20-Drone

FUNDING Sources - ISODRONE / H20-Drone

Call: Innovationsscheck 5000 (IsoDrone)

Funded by: Austrian Research Promotion Agency (FFG), Sensengasse 1, 1090 Wien, Austria


Call: Exploratory collaborative research project  (H20-Drone; RCN: 20489)

Funded by: UN Food and Agriculture Organisation/International Atomic Energy Agency (FAO/IAEA)