GELSONDE: gaining better understanding of nitrogen dioxide

Nitrogen dioxide is a gas that has a high proportion of nitrogen precipitation and is hard to measure. Synthetic gel expert Kouwer and gas detection expert Simona Cristescu from Radboud University collaborate in the GELSONDE project together with the Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute (KNMI) and SensorSense, among others.

Nitrogen dioxide (NO2), a gas emitted by industry and traffic, is a major contributor to nitrogen deposition in the Netherlands, alongside ammonia, which is emitted mainly by the agricultural sector. Unfortunately, NO2 is not easy to measure, not on the ground, and certainly not high in the atmosphere. Although there are NOmeters, these meters also measure a variety of other gases, making the readings unreliable.

Portable lab

The GELSONDE project, funded by the NWO-OTP grant, is set to transform how nitrogen dioxide (NO2) is measured in the atmosphere. By developing a novel, portable sensor technology, this initiative aims to provide precise, reliable NO2 data in various environments, from urban business parks to the upper atmosphere.

NO2-Signaling Gel Central to the project is an innovative NO2-signaling gel that emits a fluorescent signal in the presence of NO2. This cutting-edge development is the result of a collaboration between materials chemists, led by Kouwer, and sensor specialists, including Simona Cristescu's group. Together, they are refining the technology to ensure its sensitivity, stability, and practicality.

Practical prototype

The ultimate goal is to create a usable, stable, and affordable prototype that can be deployed widely, not just for measuring NO2 but potentially other gases as well. The project will leverage the next four years to develop and test this prototype, including trials in KNMI weather balloons, marking a significant advancement in atmospheric research and environmental monitoring.


The GELSONDE project partners are: