Potsdam company wins $50,000 competition with tech that aims to help in fight against air pollution
Wednesday, January 17, 2018 - 5:49 am

POTSDAM -- A young company in Potsdam, founded by Clarkson University professor Suresh Dhaniyala, is tackling air pollution by developing a better way to measure specific pollutants.

Potsdam Sensors LLC, housed in Clarkson’s incubator space in Peyton Hall, is developing small, affordable and accurate sensors to measure the very tiny airborne particles in smoke or vehicle exhaust that degrade air quality.

Recently, the company competed in the first FuzeHub Commercialization Competition. It was created to support New York State startups in product development. Potsdam Sensors was one of five companies to win the competition and $50,000.

In April of 2017, the company was awarded a $225,000 National Science Foundation (NSF) Small Business Technology Transfer Grant. Dhaniyala says the Coulter Foundation has also been a generous supporter.

Dhaniyala is the Bayard D. Clarkson Distinguished Professor in the Department of Mechanical and Aeronautical Engineering at Clarkson.

The launch of Potsdam Sensors in 2011, with the help of Clarkson’s Shipley Center for Innovation, follows about 15 years of research and support for Dhaniyala at Clarkson University.

Potsdam Sensors’ product is in the prototype phase. The sensor is small enough to be hand-held and its level of accuracy sets it apart. Its relatively low cost makes it affordable to use in clusters in hospitals or smart buildings, near highways or busy streets, or just about anywhere where air pollution is a concern.

In the quest for a better sensor, Dhaniyala has visited hotspots across the globe, including India and China, to learn how others are tackling air pollution and to share information about his research activities.

Potsdam Sensors has been closely working with CAMP (Clarkson’s Center for Advanced Materials Processing) in technology development and transfer. “It is believed that the low cost, high quality of this sensor will have global impact in terms of commercial application,” notes CAMP Director, Marilyn Freeman, a supporter of Potsdam Sensors and the work of Dhaniyala.

On the horizon is work with the state Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) in Albany and New York City to field test the sensor and to understand the concentrations of very small particles (or ultrafines, particles less than 100 nm in diameter) near communities.