Measurements Of Sub- 3nm Aerosol Particles In Tropical Rainforest Conditions – Technical Challenges And Solutions

Tuesday, 16 December 2014
Daniela Wimmer, Franchin Alessandro, John Backmann, Hanna Elina Manninen, Katrianne Lehtipalo, Tuukka Petäjä and Markku Tapio Kulmala, University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland
A Particle Size Magnifier (PSM; Vanhanen et al., 2011) was used for studying the sub-3 nm aerosol particles during the second intensive observation period of the GoAmazon campaign. The PSM is using diethylene glycol (DEG) as condensing liquid, which has a low saturation vapour pressure and is hygroscopic. The high supersaturation needed for activating sub-3 nm particles is reached by mixing the sample with clean air saturated with DEG.

The measurements took place in Sept-Oct, when typical temperatures at the measurement site are around 303 K, and relative humidity (RH) around 90%. Due to these challenging conditions, in combination with the hygroscopicity of the DEG, careful design and testing of the instrument was required. We developed an inlet reducing the RH at the inlet of the PSM while keeping the diffusion losses of particles in the inlet as low as possible.

The inlet design is based on a sintered tube, where dry, pressurized dilution flow is added. Downstream of the sintered tube, a core sampling probe is used. The core sampling allows to sample from the center of the tube, where the highest particle concentration is, while an additional make-up flow allows for a higher sample flow rate. The RH of the ambient, dilution flow and PSM inlet flow are monitored continuously. Tests in the laboratory have shown that the RH could be reduced down to less than 30%, while the ambient RH was 90-100%. The characterization of the inlet regarding diffusion losses lead to a cut off diameter of 1.6 nm, compared to 1.3 nm without inlet. Thus, this new inlet design allows measurements of sub-3 nm particles in tropical rainforest condition.