In 1998 the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) embarked upon a feasibility study to research possible ways to sample air quality plumes from fossil energy plumes, especially in their early stages of transport from the source, to better understand the physical dynamics that contribute to plume buoyancy and secondary aerosol deposition. DOE, along with industry partnerships, including the Western States Petroleum Association (WSPA) and Tracer ES&T, Inc., explored concepts of a sampling platform that could easily and safely access plume dynamics to support more accurate modeling and the assessment of fossil energy impacts to ambient air quality. The requirement was to conduct plume monitoring during low and near zero visibility conditions (i.e. fog) which cannot be accomplished using manned flight vehicles or fast moving fixed winged vehicles. The dynamics of the problem require a flexible, slow flying, highly maneuverable sampling platform, from which detailed plume measurements can be made. Hence a remotely piloted airship, under an instrument guidance and control system, offered the best approach. Such a platform, carrying miniaturized sampling/monitoring payloads, provided detailed data concerning the vertical structure of near-term plumes as well as ambient chemistry. This paper presents the various stages of development of Clean Airship 1, a helium filled remotely piloted mini-blimp, planned for use in The California Regional PM10/PM2.5 Air Quality Study (CRPAQS) to conduct detailed mapping of specific fossil energy air quality plume structure.

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