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Construction and Characterization of an Indoor Smog Chamber for Measuring the Optical and Physicochemical Properties of Aging Biomass Burning Aerosols

Category: Aerosol and Atmospheric Chemistry

Volume: 19 | Issue: 3 | Pages: 467-483
DOI: 10.4209/aaqr.2018.06.0243
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Damon M. Smith1, Marc N. Fiddler2, Kenneth G. Sexton3, Solomon Bililign 2,4

  • 1 Applied Sciences and Technology Program, North Carolina A&T State University, Greensboro, NC 27411, USA
  • 2 NOAA-ISET Center, North Carolina A&T State University, Greensboro, NC 27411, USA
  • 3 Department of Environmental Sciences and Engineering, Gillings School of Global Public Health, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC 27514, USA
  • 4 Department of Physics, North Carolina A&T State University, Greensboro, NC 27411, USA


A new Combustion-Chamber System with 9 m3 FEP batch reactor is built at NCAT.
Combustion is done in a tube furnace that allows controlled burning conditions.
Particle wall loss rates are determined using biomass burning (BB) aerosols.
Facility effectively for measuring optical properties of fresh and aged BB aerosols.
Filter samples from the chamber used for chemical and morphological studies.


We describe here the construction and characterization of a new combustion-chamber system (the NCAT chamber) for studying the optical and physicochemical properties of biomass burning (BB) aerosols. This system is composed of a ~9 m3 fluorinated ethylene propylene (FEP) film reactor placed in a temperature-controlled room that uses a tube furnace to combust biomass fuel samples under controlled conditions. The optical properties are measured using a cavity ring-down spectrometer and nephelometer. Aerosol number density and size classification used condensation particle counter, and differential mobility analyzer. Other analytical instruments, used include NOx, O3, CO, and CO2 analyzers, a gas chromatograph, and particle filter samples for determining the physicochemical and morphological properties. The construction details and characterization experiments are described, including measurements of the BB particulate size distribution and deposition rate, gas wall loss rates, dilution rate, light intensity, mixing speed, temperature and humidity variations, and air purification method. The wall loss rates for NO, NO2, and O3 were found to be (7.40 ± 0.01) × 10–4, (3.47 ± 0.01) × 10–4, and (5.90 ± 0.08) × 10–4 min–1, respectively. The NO2 photolysis rate constant was 0.165 ± 0.005 min–1, which corresponds to a flux of (7.72 ± 0.25) × 1017 photons nm cm–2 s–1 for 296.0–516.8 nm, and the particle deposition rate was (9.46 ± 0.18) × 10–3 min–1 for 100 nm mobility diameter BB particles from pine. Preliminary results of the single scattering albedo of fresh and aged BB aerosols are also reported.


Biomass burning aerosols Optical properties of aerosols Smog chamber Single scattering albedo Fresh and aged aerosols

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