Laboratory and field evaluation of the Aerosol Dynamics Inc. concentrator (ADIc) for aerosol mass spectrometry
An air-to-air ultrafine particle concentrator (Aerosol Dynamics Inc. concentrator; ADIc) has been designed to enhance online chemical characterization of ambient aerosols using aerosol mass spectrometry. The ADIc employs a three-stage, moderated water-based condensation growth tube coupled to an aerodynamic focusing nozzle to concentrate fine particles into a portion of the flow. The system can be configured to sample between 1.0 and 1.7 L min−1, with an output concentrated flow between 0.08 and 0.12 L min−1, resulting in a theoretical concentration factor (sample flow / output flow) ranging from 8 to 21. Laboratory tests with monodisperse particles show that the ADIc is effective for particles as small as 10 nm. Laboratory experiments conducted with the Aerosol Mass Spectrometer (AMS) showed no shift in the particle size with the ADIc, as measured by the AMS particle time-of-flight operation. The ADIc-AMS system was operated unattended over a 1-month period near Boston, Massachusetts. Comparison to a parallel AMS without the concentrator showed concentration factors of 9.7±0.15 and 9.1±0.1 for sulfate and nitrate, respectively, when operated with a theoretical concentration factor of 10.5±0.3. The concentration factor of organics was lower, possibly due to the presence of large particles from nearby road-paving operations and a difference in aerodynamic lens cutoff between the two AMS instruments. Another field deployment was carried out in Helsinki, Finland. Two ∼10 d measurement periods showed good correlation for the concentrations of organics, sulfate, nitrate and ammonium measured with an Aerosol Chemical Speciation Monitor (ACSM) with the ADIc and a parallel AMS without the concentrator. Additional experiments with an AMS alternating between the ADIc and a bypass line demonstrated that the concentrator did not significantly change the size distribution or the chemistry of the ambient aerosol particles.