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Ultrafine Particle Monitoring

Ultrafine Particle Monitoring

Ultrafine particle monitoring and measurements are becoming increasingly popular across many industries. Exposure to ultrafine particles has been linked to a wide variety of health conditions in humans over time. Trying to measure ultrafine and nano particles requires specialized instrumentation.

Many instruments on the market such as optical particle counters and photometers lack the sensitivity and resolution to be able to accurately count and size these particles which can be down to a few nanometers in size. Alpha Scientific has over 36 years of experience in the supply of different measurement systems and instruments for this purpose, while also having experience with different brands, makes and models of technologies.

Condensation Particle Counters

Condensation particle counters (CPCs) are devices used to measure the number concentration of airborne particles in a sample of air. CPCs operate by using a supersaturated vapor to grow particles to a size that can be easily detected and counted. The basic operation of a CPC involves drawing a sample of air through a saturator, which is a region filled with a vapor that is supersaturated with a condensable gas, typically butanol.

The supersaturation causes the condensable gas to condense onto any particles present in the air sample, forming droplets around the particles. The droplets then grow by further condensation as they move through a region with a lower supersaturation, called the growth region. Finally, the particles are counted by a detector that detects the light scattered by the droplets.

One advantage of CPCs is their high sensitivity and low detection limit. CPCs can detect particles as small as a few nanometers in diameter and can count particles at concentrations as low as a few particles per cubic centimeter. CPCs are commonly used in a variety of applications, including air quality monitoring, aerosol research, and clean room monitoring.

They are particularly useful for measuring the concentration of ultrafine particles, which can be difficult to measure using other techniques. One limitation of CPCs is that they can only measure the number concentration of particles, and not their size or composition. However, CPCs can be used in conjunction with other instruments, such as scanning mobility particle sizers (SMPS), to provide information on the size distribution of particles in a sample.

SMPS Systems – For Particle Sizing

Personal ultrafine particle monitors are very specialized instruments and there are very few choices on the market. These devices are widely used in the mining industry and in other areas where organizations wish to monitor ultrafine particles such as diesel particultes of which traditional real-time dust monitors will not adequately detect and monitor.

Diesel particulate matter (DPM) was classified as carcenogic by the World Health Organization (WHO) long ago and obviously having your workers exposed to DPM puts them at some risk. The same applies to other industries (transport, welding, smoke etc) where fine particulates are produced and potentially inhaled by humans.

Scanning mobility particle sizers (SMPS) are instruments used in particle research to measure the size distribution of airborne particles in a sample of air. SMPS systems use a combination of a DMA or DEMC (differential electrical mobility classifier) and a particle counter to size-select particles based on their electrical mobility and count them at different size bins.

The basic operation of an SMPS involves drawing a sample of air through a DMA, which is an instrument that uses an electric field to size-select particles based on their electrical mobility. The DMA applies a voltage gradient across two parallel plates, causing particles to move along a trajectory that is a function of their electrical mobility. By varying the voltage gradient applied to the plates, the DMA can select particles with a specific electrical mobility.

After passing through the DMA, the selected particles are counted by a particle counter, which typically uses a CPC or a laser-based instrument to detect and count particles. By varying the voltage gradient applied to the DMA over a range of values, the SMPS can size-select particles over a range of sizes and provide information on the size distribution of particles in the sample.

SMPS systems have a number of advantages for particle research, including their ability to measure the size distribution of particles in real-time, their high resolution and accuracy, and their wide dynamic range. SMPS systems can typically measure particles over a size range from a few nanometers to several hundred nanometers, making them useful for studying both ultrafine particles and larger aerosols.

Fixed Indoor & Outdoor Monitoring Stations

Fixed continuous ultrafine particle monitors are rare to find and those that are around are often expensive and require constant maintenance and or regular topping up of fluids such as Butanol. Alpha Scientific offers the above latest generation solutions for indoor and outdoor air quality monitoring of ultrafine particles down to 10nm. These systems require little to no maintenance and can be easily deployed in the field.

Personal Wearable Monitors

Personal real-time ultra-fine particle monitors are very popular and are widely used in the mining industry and other fields for monitoring direct human exposure to diesel particulates, smoke, welding fumes and other airborne pollutants.

Catalytic Strippers & Filters

Catalytic Instruments GmbH develops, manufactures and markets products to condition the exhaust and to allow accurate measurement of particle concentration. Their catalytic strippers and related technologies are designed to remove the volatile compounds and to avoid re-nucleation effects by means of an oxidizing catalyst.

The core technology was developed at the university of Minneapolis with a focus on environemental aerosols, today a growing interest is the investigation of combustion generated particles. The technology has a broad range of applications, which have only been investigated in a narrow research and application area. Customized OEM solutions, integrated into particle measurement equipment or as stand alone solutions, they provide tailored units to meet specific customer requirements and research needs.

Calibration Systems & Instruments

The Catalytic Instruments silver particle generator is a precision calibration standard for calibrating condensation particle counters and related ultra-fine particle measurement devices. It’s modern design, latest generation features and industry leading performance makes it an excellent tool for particle researchers and ultrafine / nano particle measurement professionals. The silver particle generator provides outstanding accuracy and stability with a quick warm up time. These devices are traditionally used by metrology institutes, laboratories, condensation particle counter users, SMPS system users and other research groups throughout the world.
  • Diesel particulate monitoring in undergound mines
  • Smoke monitoring & studies
  • Monitoring airports
  • Formation and dispersion studies
  • Ultrafine particle research
  • University studies, projects and research
  • Air purifier testing and studies
  • Indoor air quality studies
  • Monitoring vehicle exhaust levels in tunnels
  • Atmospheric research
  • Workplace OH&S studies
  • Urban air quality monitoring
  • General environmental monitoring
  • Monitoring aerosols coming from freeways and roads
  • Filter testing & media testing
  • Medical and pharmaceutical drug delivery