Xinyue Li1, Haoxuan Chen1, Xiao Qi2, Yijiao Peng1, Lian Zhou3, Jianxin Ma2, Maosheng Yao This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.1

1 State Key Joint Laboratory of Environmental Simulation and Pollution Control, College of Environmental Sciences and Engineering, Peking University, Beijing 100871, China
2 Center for Disease Control and Prevention of Chaoyang District of Beijing, Beijing, China
3 Department of Environment and Health, Jiangsu Provincial Center for Disease Control and Prevention, Nanjing, China

Received: June 7, 2021
Revised: September 6, 2021
Accepted: November 18, 2021

 Copyright The Author(s). This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY 4.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are cited.

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Cite this article:

Li, X., Chen, H., Qi, X., Peng, Y., Zhou, L., Ma, J., Yao, M. (2021). A Robot Assisted High-flow Portable Cyclone Sampler for Bacterial and SARS-CoV-2 Aerosols. Aerosol Air Qual. Res.


  • A high-volume air sampler was developed and fully tested with a cutoff size of 0.58 µm.
  • The sampler had a physical collection efficiency of close to 100% for particles of larger than 1 µm.
  • The developed sampler coupled with a robot was tested with sampling airborne SARS-CoV-2 in Wuhan.


Airborne transmission of infectious diseases attracts great attention since the COVID-19 pandemic. Yet, there has been an intense dispute about aerosol transmission of the disease, which is largely due to lack of qualified instruments for studying the subject. Air sampling plays a critical role in all air pollution related study, and particularly critical for airborne pathogen detection. Here, we designed and evaluated a portable and high volume (400 L/min) cyclone sampler named as Yao-CSpler using aerosolized Polystyrene (PS) uniform microspheres, Bacillus subtilis var. niger, Pseudomonas fluorescens, and both indoor and outdoor air particles. The experimental cutoff size of the Yao-CSpler was demonstrated to be 0.58 μm (while the calculated theoretical value is 1.84 μm), and the sampler has shown stable microbial collection performances for bacteria, fungi, and even viruses. The sampler had a physical collection efficiency of close 100% for particles of larger than 1μm. Jet-to-liquid distance and sampling duration were shown to substantially influence the sampler performance. Given the same sampling duration, the performances of the Yao-CSpler were significantly higher than those of the traditional BioSampler (SKC Inc.) in terms of samples’ bacterial diversity. The developed sampler coupled with a robot has been successfully applied to sampling airborne SARS-CoV-2 in both Wuhan and Beijing during the COVID-19 outbreaks. With a high sampling flow, the Yao-CSpler was shown to be able to collect the SARS-CoV-2 with a detectable concentration level down to 9-219 viruses/m3 in clinical settings housing COVID-19 patients. Further more efficient bioaerosol sampler, which is able to rapidly capture low level pathogenic agents, is urgently required to better understand and confront airborne transmission of infectious diseases.

Keywords: Bioaerosol, Cyclone sampler, High-flow sampling, Portable sampler

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