Blake Ericson

FTIR Project Manager, Montrose Environmental Group, Inc.

Blake Ericson is a Project Manager for Montrose Environmental Group. Mr. Ericson has 5 years of experience in the fields of air quality management, engineering, and regulatory testing; primarily involving FTIR and GC-FTIR technologies. He began as chemist and analyst for Prism Analytical Technologies in February 2015. Since then he has completed >120 individual projects both solo and with teams throughout the United States and internationally. Mr. Ericson received his MBA and BS in Biochemistry from Central Michigan University.

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Generating Highly Reliable FTIR Field Data with Quality Assurance, Accuracy, and Validation

It all starts with the basics. Obtaining quality FTIR data is not easy. It requires a great depth of knowledge, understanding, proper equipment, and training to assure high-accuracy concentration data. Lack of any one of these items may lead to poor data quality and a loss of confidence in the measurements. Manual data validations are a critical step that is often missed by most source testing firms. Without validation work and instrument health checks, data integrity is subject to inaccuracies, wrong conclusions, and potential retests. These quality assurance checks are especially vital with instruments that can read at extremely sensitive levels. Without them, low-level analyte determinations are likely incorrect.

Many methods and research-based tests are done in laboratory settings with FTIRs. In-field testing delivers many more challenges that laboratories cannot replicate. FTIR source testing requires a great deal of skill and expertise during all phases of testing including reporting and method development. This holds true with upgraded FTIRs for low-level detection limits. Any minor mistakes during in-field testing with these sensitive instruments may compound into large error. These errors may lead to improper concentration results or even require expensive retesting.

We will present the key points to assure high quality FTIR data capture during your next source test. From FTIR basics to data validation, we will be addressing best practices and what to look for during your next source test to identify any potential issues with the data being captured.

Advanced FTIR Technologies and Method Comparisons of Results

Many facilities have traditionally struggled with determining their true emissions due to instrument capabilities. Actual emissions such as formaldehyde and other compounds of interest from combustion and other emission sources can be lower than the detection limits of the standard test methods. Furthermore, existing emission factors can seriously over-estimate the emissions in many cases as they were developed using older, less sensitive methods. New enhancements to existing methods and emerging technologies can provide actual emission results at measurable and defendable levels.

We will discuss which new optimized techniques are currently being used to measure HAPs, VOCs, BTEX, etc. emissions at much lower concentrations than can be detected using the standard methods. These enhancements can provide continuous and real-time data useful in combustion tuning, compliance, engineering, and demonstration of combustion or post-combustion controls. These measurements have verified that some sources emit much lower than the proposed limits. (Starboost, GC-MAX)

Data from several in-field testing programs will be reviewed to illustrate the issues with the standard methods and the improvements provided by the enhanced techniques. A few of the enhanced FTIR techniques will also be discussed. We will also hypothesize the potential pathway for FTIR testing and our vision of the future in enhanced data collection.