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Metrology for Stable Isotope Reference Standards

The Consortium

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The National Physical Laboratory (NPL) is the National Metrology Institute for the UK and is a world-leading centre of excellence in developing and applying the most accurate measurement standards to science and technology. The Environment Division at NPL is devoted to the development and dissemination of new reference standards to underpin chemical measurements and includes more than 70 scientists. The research outputs from this JRP will be delivered by the Gas and Particle Metrology Group at NPL. This group consisting of 23 scientists and is devoted to the development and dissemination of standards for gas and particle analysis. High accuracy reference standards of greenhouse gases with isotopic composition feature particularly high up in the group's strategic agenda. NPL also hold a leading position in the preparation and analysis of synthetic greenhouse gas reference standards (primarily CO2, CH4, CO and N2O) demonstrated by coordination and participation in key comparisons (e.g. CCQM K82 CH4 in air). NPL supplies these reference standards to monitoring stations, local authorities, universities and other NMIs. This JRP builds on current capability with research to develop primary reference materials of greenhouse gases to underpin measurements of isotopic composition to meet the challenging requirements for underpinning atmospheric monitoring. 



Danish Fundamental Metrology (DFM) is the Danish National Metrology Institute. DFM's scientific research results in new knowledge, measurement techniques and standards, which support the needs of Danish industry and authorities for accurate measurements. The services offered are high-level calibrations and reference materials traceable to national primary or reference standards, training courses related to metrology and consultancy services. DFM has a special role in developing measurement capabilities needed by small and medium sized high-tech companies in order for them to evolve and prosper. DFM works to ensure global confidence in Danish metrological services, which are critical for competing in the global market place. DFM's main research and development areas are in photonics, nanometrology, electrochemistry, acoustics and mathematics.



The Istituto Nazionale di Ricerca Metrologica (INRiM) is the Italian public body with the task of carrying out and promoting scientific research in metrology. It was established in 2006 by the merging of the Istituto Elettrotecnico Nazionale "Galileo Ferraris" (IEN) and the Istituto di Metrologia "Gustavo Colonnetti" (IMGC-CNR). INRiM carries out studies and researches on the realisation of primary standards for the basic and derived units of the International System of units (SI) (except for the field of ionising radiation), assures the maintenance of such standards, their international comparison and in general provides measurements traceability to the SI. In addition to physical and engineering metrology, its main R&D areas are in fundamental physical constants, materials, metrology for chemistry, nanotechnology, innovation, quantum information and artificial vision.



The Physikalisch-Technische Bundesanstalt (PTB) is the national institute for science and technology and the highest technical authority of the Federal Republic of Germany for the field of metrology and certain sectors of safety engineering. It is a fundamental task of the PTB to realise and maintain the legal units in compliance with the International System of Units (SI) and to disseminate them, above all within the framework of legal and industrial metrology. The PTB meets the requirements for calibration and testing laboratories as defined in the EN ISO/IEC 17025. It has a staff of about 1900 employees of whom about 1000 are graduates.

It is a fundamental task of PTB to realise and maintain the legal units in compliance with the International System of Units (SI) and to disseminate them. PTB is also responsible for coordinating the national network for Metrology in Chemistry. With respect to gas analysis, this network is the framework for close collaboration with the Federal Agency for Environmental Protection (UBA) and the Bundesanstalt für Materialforschung und -prüfung (BAM). UBA is acting as the national air quality reference laboratory and BAM as Germany's representative for industrial reference gas traceability.

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​Ulusal Metroloji Enstitusu (UME) is the Turkish National Metrology Institute and is part of the legal entity Turkiye Bilimsel ve Teknolojik Arastirma Kurumu (TUBITAK). TUBITAK UME operates with the mission to establish and maintain national measurements standards in accordance with the SI Units for providing traceability to the secondary laboratories. The institute represents Turkey at an international level in the field of metrology and conducts applied research especially focusing on measuring device producer companies, industrial automation, military and advanced energy technologies. TUBITAK UME was officially established in 1992 and a funded partner of this JRP.


VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland Ltd is the National Metrology Institute of Finland and realizes the base units of the SI-system in Finland to guarantee the accuracy of measurements in scientific community, industry, and trade. Additionally, VTT carries out scientific research on fundamental and applied metrology to develop novel measurement techniques and instrumentation. 

The Environmental Metrology group at VTT has substantial experience in optical diagnostics of trace gases as well as determination of isotopic ratios in trace gases. The group currently develops optical gas sensing techniques in the near-IR and mid-IR spectral range and has developed and implemented various techniques for scientific, medical and industrial applications. Instrumentation developed within the group extends from laboratory based devices to field capable instrumentation.

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Air Liquide

The world leader in gases, technologies and services for Industry and Health, Air Liquide is present in 80 countries with approximately 67,000 employees and serves more than 3 million customers and patients. Oxygen, nitrogen and hydrogen are essential small molecules for life, matter and energy. They embody Air Liquide's scientific territory and have been at the core of the company's activities since its creation in 1902.

Air  Liquide's ambition is to lead its industry, deliver long-term performance and contribute to sustainability. The company's customer-centric transformation strategy aims at profitable growth over the long term. It relies on operational excellence, selective investments, open innovation and a network organization implemented by the Group worldwide. Through the commitment and inventiveness of its people, Air Liquide leverages energy and environment transition, changes in healthcare and digitization, and delivers greater value to all its stakeholders.



The Jožef Stefan Institute (JSI) is the leading Slovenian scientific research institute, covering a broad spectrum of basic and applied research. The staff of more than 930 specialises in natural sciences, life sciences and engineering. The Department of Environmental Sciences (DES) focuses on multidisciplinary research with an emphasis on the combination of physical, chemical and biological processes that influence the environment, man and human activities. DES has a status of Designated Institute for the amount of substance in the National Metrology System, is active in EURAMET and BIPM Committees and is accredited for k0-NAA for the determination of trace elements in environmental and biological samples. DES coordinates the twining project MASSTWIN, related to the novel analytical techniques used in environment and human health programmes. Since 1997 the Department regularly organizes IAEA training for trace elements analytical techniques in environmental research including stable isotopes. Further, DES has experience in stable isotope measurements of gaseous CO2, including atmospheric CO2.



​The Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry (MPI-BGC) is a research institute of the German Max Planck Society (MPG) and was founded in 1997. The research mission of the Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry is the investigation of the global biogeochemical cycles and their interaction with the climate system. The institute combines strong observational and process-based studies (soil carbon, plant community and growth, vegetation-atmosphere fluxes) with global scale modelling (e.g. vegetation dynamics, global carbon cycle, aerosol). The MPI-BGC is one of the pivotal European research institutions in its field, and as such was and still is co-ordinating several larger EU projects.  

The stable isotope laboratory (IsoLab) is part of the central service facilities of the MPI-BGC. With 10 isotope ratio mass spectrometers it caters to the analytical needs of the institutes researchers, analysing stable isotopes of carbon, nitrogen, oxygen and hydrogen in various different sample matrices. Furthermore, the IsoLab is the central calibration laboratory of the World Metrological Organisation (WMO) for isotopic measurements (carbon and oxygen) of atmospheric carbon dioxide. 



​The Centre for Isotope Research (CIO) of the University of Groningen was the first (together with the Scripps Institute of Oceanography) to systematically analyse the stable isotopes of atmospheric CO2. Ever since, the group has strived for the highest precision and accuracy in those measurements. Key to that is and has always been proper maintenance of reference materials, and characterisation and improvement of instrumentation. CIO has been operating the atmospheric monitoring station Lutjewad on the Dutch Wadden Sea coast since 2001, producing continuous measurements on greenhouse gas concentrations and related tracers (such as the isotopes  of CO2). Research is especially directed towards quantification of anthropogenic (fossil) CO2, using both radiocarbon and the stable isotopes of CO2. The group owns several IRMS instruments, and soon will acquire a new optical instrument for high-precision measurement of 13C, 18O and 17O in atmospheric CO2, directly in (dry) air. Several preparation systems, such as a line for complete extraction of atmospheric CO2, are available.



​Environmental and Biological Science is in the main research and education areas of University of Eastern Finland (UEF). There are groups working with plant and soil ecology, environmental technology, and atmospheric chemistry and physics. The Biogeochemistry Research Group is working at the Department of Environmental and Biological Science, UEF. The group has studied since 1990 the greenhouse gas dynamics (CO2, N2O, CH4), and the microbial processes responsible for production and consumption of methane, nitrous oxide, nitric oxide and carbon dioxide of peatlands, forests, agricultural soils, and lakes. Many of these studies are pioneering studies on N2O biogeochemistry and use stable isotope techniques. The aim of the group is to analyse the effects of environmental changes and land use on gas dynamics of the northern ecosystems, and to understand process underlying the gas emissions. The group has an isotope ratio mass spectrometer to determine the 13C/12C and 15N/14N ratio in solid and gaseous samples, and laboratory and field facilities (various chamber techniques, eddy covariance for CO2 and N2O) for studies on methane, carbon dioxide, nitrous oxide and nitric oxide (gas chromatographs for methane, nitrous oxide and carbon dioxide, IR-analysers for carbon dioxide, NOx analysers for NO).The group participates in key stable isotope networks in Nordic countries and Europe, and is currently leading an international ring test to identify the most reliable method to analyse 15N/14N ratio in inorganic nitrogen forms (NO3, NH4; supported by SIBAE and NORDSIR. Presently ten PhD students, seven post graduate students, two PostDOCs and four senior scientists are working in the group. The group is part of the Finnish Centre of Excellence in Atmospheric Science - From Molecular and Biological processes to The Global Climate.



​The Laboratory for Air Pollution / Environmental Technology at EMPA runs the Swiss National Air Pollution Monitoring Network (NABEL). Furthermore, it is responsible for the Swiss monitoring activities resulting from international obligations (EMEP) and has been designated by the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) to operate the World Calibration Centre for surface ozone, CO, CH4 and CO2 (WCC-EMPA), as well as the Quality Assurance/Scientific Activity Centre Switzerland (QA/SAC).

The Laboratory for Air Pollution and Environmental Technology at EMPA comprises a number of research groups, which together encompass a great deal of expertise that will support the goals of this JRP. Main contributions will be made by the Emissions and Isotopes group and the World Calibration Centre (WCC-EMPA) for surface ozone, carbon monoxide, methane and carbon dioxide.