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Comparison of aerosol spectrometers: Accounting for evaporation and sampling losses

Xavier Lefebvre, Antonella Succar, Émilie Bédard, Michèle Prévost and Étienne Robert

Article (2024)

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Measuring aerosol size distribution with precision is critical to understand the transmission of pathogens causing respiratory illnesses and to identify risk mitigation strategies. It is however a challenging task as the size of pathogen-carrying particles evolves over time due to evaporation. Although measurement techniques well established in the field of aerosol science are often used to characterize bioaerosols, their performance is seldom assessed with respect to evaporation and deposition in sampling lines. Four instruments providing aerosol size distribution were compared using oil and water-based particles. They each rely on different measurement principles: phase doppler anemometry, light scattering, electrical mobility and aerodynamic impaction. Size distributions of oil-based particles showed consistency across different measurement instruments, but significant discrepancies arose for water-based particles undergoing evaporation. These larger differences result from both evaporation and particle deposition in transit between the sampling point and the measurement inside the instrument. Phase doppler anemometry was best suited for precise size distribution measurement, as it eliminates the need for a sampling line, thereby preventing particle loss or evaporation during transit. With this instrument as a reference, empirical correction factors for evaporation and deposition were derived from dimensionless numbers and experimental data, enabling quantitative assessment of bioaerosol size distribution using different instruments. To obtain the size distribution at the source of the aerosol generation, complete drying of a salt solution was performed. Using the complete drying technique and accounting for losses, sampling instruments can reliably provide this critical information and allow for thorough risk assessment in the context of airborne transmission.

Uncontrolled Keywords

aerosol characterization; particle deposition; evaporation; size distribution; multiphase flow; stokes number; sherwood number

Subjects: 1000 Civil engineering > 1000 Civil engineering
1500 Environmental engineering > 1503 Air and noise pollution
2100 Mechanical engineering > 2100 Mechanical engineering
Department: Department of Mechanical Engineering
Department of Civil, Geological and Mining Engineering
Funders: NSERC / CRSNG Alliance Grant, NSERC / CRSNG Scholarship, Polytechnique Montreal, Hydro-Quebec - Excellence Scholarship, Fonds de recherche du Québec - Nature et technologie
Grant number: ALLRP545363/2019, ES D, B2X
PolyPublie URL: https://publications.polymtl.ca/57327/
Journal Title: Measurement Science and Technology (vol. 35, no. 4)
Publisher: IOP Publishing
DOI: 10.1088/1361-6501/ad1b9e
Official URL: https://doi.org/10.1088/1361-6501/ad1b9e
Date Deposited: 26 Feb 2024 13:10
Last Modified: 23 May 2024 12:31
Cite in APA 7: Lefebvre, X., Succar, A., Bédard, É., Prévost, M., & Robert, É. (2024). Comparison of aerosol spectrometers: Accounting for evaporation and sampling losses. Measurement Science and Technology, 35(4), 15 pages. https://doi.org/10.1088/1361-6501/ad1b9e


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