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Atmospheric Measurement Techniques An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

  30 Oct 2020

30 Oct 2020

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This preprint is currently under review for the journal AMT.

Design and Characterization of a new OFR: The Particle Formation Accelerator (PFA)

Ningjin Xu1,2 and Don R. Collins1,2 Ningjin Xu and Don R. Collins
  • 1Department of Chemical and Environmental Engineering, University of California Riverside, Riverside, CA 92521
  • 2College of Engineering- Center of Environmental Research and Technology (CE-CERT), University of California Riverside, Riverside, CA 92507

Abstract. Oxidation flow reactors (OFRs) are frequently used to study the formation and evolution of secondary aerosol (SA) in the atmosphere and have become valuable tools for improving the accuracy of model simulations and for depicting and accelerating realistic atmospheric chemistry. Driven by rapid development of OFR techniques and the increasing appreciation of their wide application, we designed a new all-Teflon reactor, the Particle Formation Accelerator (PFA), and characterized it in the laboratory and with ambient air. A series of simulations and experiments were performed to characterize: (1) flow profiles in the reactor using computational fluid dynamics (CFD) simulations, (2) the UV intensity distribution in the reactor and the influence of it and varying O3 concentration and relative humidity (RH) on the resulting equivalent OH exposure (OHexp), (3) transmission efficiencies for gases and particles, (4) residence time distributions (RTD) for gases and particles using both computational simulations and experimental verification, (5) the production yield of secondary organic aerosol (SOA) from oxidation of α-pinene and m-xylene, (6) the effect of seed particles on resulting SA concentration, and (7) SA production from ambient air in Riverside, CA, U.S. The reactor response and characteristics are compared with those of a smog chamber (Caltech) and of other oxidation flow reactors (the Toronto Photo-Oxidation Tube (TPOT), the Caltech Photooxidation Flow Tube (CPOT), and quartz and aluminum versions of Potential Aerosol Mass reactors (PAMs)).

Our studies show that: (1) OHexp can be varied over a range comparable to that of other OFRs, (2) particle transmission efficiency is over 75 % in the size range from 50 to 200 nm, after minimizing static charge on the Teflon surfaces, (3) the penetration efficiencies of CO2 and SO2 are 0.90 ± 0.02 and 0.76 ± 0.04, respectively, the latter of which is comparable to estimates for LVOCs, (4) a near laminar flow profile is expected based on CFD simulations and suggested by the RTD experiment results, (5) m-xylene SOA and α-pinene SOA yields were 0.22 and 0.37, respectively, at about 3 × 1011 molec. cm−3 s OH exposure, (6) the mass ratio of seed particles to precursor gas has a significant effect on the amount of SOA formed, and (7) during measurements of SA production when sampling ambient air in Riverside, the mass concentration of SA formed in the reactor was an average of 1.8 times that of the ambient aerosol at the same time.

Ningjin Xu and Don R. Collins

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Ningjin Xu and Don R. Collins

Ningjin Xu and Don R. Collins


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