More frequent extreme weather events, along with growing demand for natural resources to feed a growing world population, is fueling a need for scientific instruments that provide more comprehensive, accurate and timely measurement and analysis of the origin and cycling of the organic and inorganic chemical elements – carbon, hydrogen, oxygen and nitrogen – crucial to supporting life on Earth as we know it. Santa Clara, California-based Picarro has emerged as a leading player in the development of such instruments.
Today, Picarro announced it’s raised $7 million in a Series D equity financing led by Focus Ventures and joined by DAG Ventures, NTT Electronics and Mingxin China Growth Fund. “The new round of investment will help Picarro expand its profile globally and within the commercial and industrial emissions sector through continued innovation and expanded sales and marketing programs,” management stated in a press release.
New, improved instruments for measuring, analyzing greenhouse gas emissions…
The mix of venture fund investors taking equity stakes in Picarro is a good indication of growing interest from large, multinational commercial and industrial companies in a new, improved generation of scientific instruments with a broad range of environmental applications, from analyzing the origin and changes over time in carbon emissions and water resources to just about any organic material, from food and timber to fossil fuels.
Once practically affordable only for the world’s leading and largest research institutions, sophisticated isotope analysis of the kind Picarro’s instruments provide are the size of a common home workbench and provide more current, detailed analysis at significantly lower cost, according to the company. They’re able to identify and very precisely measure chemical isotopes at the atomic scale on-the-fly, and they are now being used by a wide and growing range of commercial and non-profit enterprises around the world– from food and agriculture industry players and environmental organizations to fossil fuel providers and water and power utilities.
“By focusing on building out of a powerful yet simple analytical platform for a broad array of applications for carbon cycle and water cycle science, Picarro has emerged as a profitable and growing scientific instrument company in just a few years,” Picarro CEO Michael Woelk commented.
“We plan to continue to expand into industrial compliance markets by providing fully integrated solutions for industry, regulators and other market stakeholders to validate claims, maintain compliance and ensure public safety. The expertise and resources of the new and existing investors we’ve assembled in our Series D financing, will help us further scale our efforts to put the power of world-class scientific measurements into the hands of just about anyone.”
CO2 emissions, the main driver of the Greenhouse Effect, rose 3% in 2011, reaching another record-high of 34 billion metric tons, according to Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency (PBL) and the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre (JRC). Boding particularly ill for the near future, rapid, fossil fuel-powered industrialization in China has caused CO2 emissions there to come within a 6-19 metric ton per capita range of the major industrialized countries.
Measuring, analyzing carbon emissions at city, and larger, scales
Picarro announced on July 19 that EDS Astrium has chosen to make exclusive use of Picarro’s cavity ring-down spectroscopy (CRDS) equipment in carrying out a pilot test of its London Greenhouse Gas Emissions Measurement Service (EMS), which seeks to measure and analyze carbon emissions city-wide in London during the 2012 Olympics.
Aiming to scale-up and determine CO2 equivalent emissions and identify their sources at a national level, EADS Astrium’s EMS, in addition to CO2, has been designed to analyze atmospheric concentrations of carbon monoxide (CO) and methane (CH4). Picarro’s Cavity Ring-Down Spectroscopy (CRDS) instruments have been installed at four locations around the city, on a bus that will measure GHG concentrations at road level, and aboard a plane to take measure GHG concentrations at higher altitudes.
“The EMS project in London reflects a growing need among the world’s megacities to take actions to reduce GHG emissions. Over half of the world’s population lives in urban centers, which comprise less than two percent of the Earth’s landmass; yet cities are responsible for more than 70 percent of global GHG emissions,” Picarro noted in its press release.
Looking provide policy makers and a broader swathe of stakeholders data and analysis for much more informed decision-making, a host of leading scientific research organizations, along with Picarro, are participating in EADS Astrium’s EMS pilot. Included are France’s Laboratoire des Sciences du Climat et de l’Environnement (LSCE), the UK’s National Centre for Earth Observation and National Physical Laboratory (NPL) Centre for Carbon Measurement and Earth Networks.
Photo credit: UCAR