For PEat's Sake

Project undertaken in course year 2022-23 with the Stanford Precourt Institute for Energy

Project Goal

Design an automated standing flux chamber for collection of data on concentrations of carbon dioxide and methane gases emitted from the water surface of peatland environments.  

Project Motivation

The current lack of suitable instrumentation requires the development of a low-cost, easily deployable sensing device for greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.  

An automated floating flux chamber would enable the large-scale collection of GHG emissions data to better understand Earth's changing climate and inform actions for environmental sustainability.


The rise in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions is correlated with the rise in global temperatures, worsening gllobal disasters like wildfires, groughts, and storms and ultimately threatening life. The current methods of collecting GHG emissions data are expensive, non-portable, or not suitable for large-scale production.  


Peatlands are a type of wetland ecosystem that contain deep accumulations of decomposed organic material, or peat.  

High Priority Requirements

Ethical Considerations


Designed and built Peatricia: a stationary modular flux chamber composed of 5 major components: 1) a bottom collar for mounting into the ground, 2) mid-section to accommodate different depths of water, 3) top housing which carries 4) the sensor system and desiccant, and 5) the ventilation door.  Water sealing flanges are between the collar and mid-section, and between the mid-section and top-section, to ensure no water or gas leakage. 

Working system

System mounted into the ground, with a mid-section sized to achieve the 0.3m floodwater requirement. Note the flanges between sections. 

Sequence to build Peatricia

Starting with the collar being placed in the ground, connect and scure flanges for the center pipe section. Connect top section subassembly that includes the sensors and lid via flanges. 

Leakage testing

Testing the leak rate of the flange, by using a closed top-section and pressurizing the system to 10 psi and observe the decay over time.  Results showed a top of 1 psi over 5 minutes, which equates to <1% loss of gas in this time. 

Humidity testing

The device includes a desiccant with the sensor pcb to maintain humidity levels. We ran testing to determine how much desiccant would be needed. We tested up to 30g of desiccant, and test results suggest it will saturate after 44 days and need to be replaced. Given that researchers intend to leave Peatricia in the field for longer periods than 44 days, further evaluation is required

Water sensor testing

Results show the water sensor has a linear output across its entire length, and is accurate to measurements made by hand. 

Door mechanism

System design for ventilation door at the top of Peatricia.  

Door prototype

Underside of door assembly, showing servo motor, 2-bar linkage

Vent test setup

When tested for leakage, the door did not seal adequately to the gasket and leaked.  Opportunity to improve!

Other testing conducted

Student team

Future Work