Measuring aerosol size distributions with the aerodynamic aerosol classifier

03 May 2018

The Aerodynamic Aerosol Classifier (AAC) is a novel instrument that selects aerosol particles based on their relaxation time or aerodynamic diameter. Additional theory and characterization is required to allow the AAC to accurately measure an aerosol's aerodynamic size distribution by stepping whilst connected to a particle counter (such as a Condensation Particle Counter, CPC). To achieve this goal, this study characterized the AAC transfer function (from 32 nm to 3 μm) using tandem AACs and comparing the experimental results to the theoretical tandem deconvolution. These results show that the AAC transmission efficiency is 2.6 to 5.1 times higher than a combined Krypton-85 radioactive neutralizer and Differential Mobility Analyzer (DMA), as the AAC classifies particles independent of their charge state. However, the AAC transfer function is 1.3 to 1.9 times broader than predicted by theory. Using this characterized transfer function, the theory to measure an aerosol's aerodynamic size distribution using an AAC and particle counter was developed. The transfer function characterization and stepping deconvolution were validated by comparing the size distribution measured with an AAC-CPC system against parallel measurements taken with a Scanning Mobility Particle Sizer (SMPS), CPC and Electrical Low Pressure Impactor (ELPI). The effects of changing AAC classifier conditions on the particle selected were also investigated and found to be small (<1.5%) within its operating range.