Design Optimization of a Portable Thermophoretic Precipitator Nanoparticle Sampler
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Design Optimization of a Portable Thermophoretic Precipitator Nanoparticle Sampler

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  • Alternative Title:
    Aerosol Sci Technol
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    Researchers at the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) are developing methods for characterizing diesel particulate matter in mines. Introduction of novel engine and exhaust after treatment technologies in underground mines is changing the nature of diesel emissions, and metrics alternative to the traditional mass-based measurements are being investigated with respect to their ability to capture changes in the properties of diesel aerosols. The emphasis is given to metrics based on measurement of number and surface area concentrations, but analysis of collected particles using electron microscopy (EM) is also employed for detailed particle characterization. To collect samples for EM analysis at remote workplaces, including mining and manufacturing facilities, NIOSH is developing portable particle samplers capable of collecting airborne nano-scale particles. This paper describes the design, construction, and testing of a prototype thermophoretic precipitator (TP) particle sampler optimized for collection of particles in the size range of 1-300 nm. The device comprises heated and cooled metal plates separated by a 0.8 mm channel through which aerosol is drawn by a pump. It weighs about 2 kg, has a total footprint of 27 × 22 cm, and the collection plate size is approximately 4 × 8 cm. Low power consumption and enhanced portability were achieved by using moderate flow rates (50-150 cm|/min) and temperature gradients (10-50 K/mm with Δ| between 8 K and 40 K). The collection efficiency of the prototype, measured with a condensation particle counter using laboratory-generated polydisperse submicrometer NaCl aerosols, ranged from 14-99%, depending on temperature gradient and flow rate. Analysis of transmission electron microscopy images of samples collected with the TP confirmed that the size distributions of collected particles determined using EM are in good agreement with those determined using a Fast Mobility Particle Sizer.
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