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A Methodology to Establish the Morphology of Ambient Aerosols

By Rafael Mcdonald and Pratim Biswas


The morphology of ambient particulate matter (PM) is an important characteristic that seldom is measured and re-ported. A study was performed to determine the viability of a method to establish the distribution of shapes and the fractal dimensions of aggregates of ambient aerosols. Particles of PM with aerodynamic diameter less than or equal to 2.5 p.m (PM2,.) were captured on different days via size-independent electrostatic precipitation at two sites in St. Louis and examined in a scanning electron microscope (SEM). Nonvolatile particles between 0.1 and 2.5 pm were readily identified via SEM. Particle shapes were classified as fibrous, spherical, agglomerated, or "other. " A computer program using the nested-squares algorithm was developed and used to determine the frac-tal dimensions of the aggregates. More particles were collected at the St. Louis-Midwest Supersite on June 14, 2002, than were collected on the Washington University campus loading dock on May 31, 2002, but the campus samples had a higher percentage of aggregates. On one day of sampling at the Supersite, the aggregate fraction was highest in the morning (14.3% between 7:00 and 9:00 a.m.) and steadily declined during the day (1.3 % between 5:00 and 7:00 p.m.). The fractal dimensions of the aerosols were 1.65 in the morning (7:00-9:00 a.m.), decreased to 1.49 (11:00 a.m.-1:00 p.m.), and then increased to 1.87 (5:00-7:00 p.m.). The results show that the fractal dimension is not a static value and that ambient aerosols are not perfectly spherical

Year: 2014
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