Atmos. Chem. Phys. Discuss., 13, 13519-13540, 2013
www.atmos-chem-phys-discuss.net/13/13519/2013/
doi:10.5194/acpd-13-13519-2013
© Author(s) 2013. This work is distributed
under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.
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This discussion paper has been under review for the journal Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics (ACP). Please refer to the corresponding final paper in ACP.
Estimating neutral nanoparticle steady state size distribution and growth according to measurements of intermediate air ions
H. Tammet, K. Komsaare, and U. Hõrrak
Institute of Physics, University of Tartu, 18 Ülikooli St., 50090, Tartu, Estonia

Abstract. The concentration of nanometer aerosol particles in atmospheric air during quiet periods of new particle formation is low and direct measuring is difficult. We study what information about neutral particles can be drawn from measurements of intermediate ions, which are the electrically charged particles between 1.5–7.5 nm in diameter. If the coagulation sink of nanoparticles and the growth rate of charged particles are known, then the steady state equations allow us to calculate the size distribution of neutral nanoparticles. Variations in the trial value of the growth rate have a minor effect on the estimates of the concentrations and size distributions. There exists a value of the constant growth rate of charged nanoparticles that leads to a minimum deviation of the estimated growth rate of neutral nanoparticles from the growth rate of charged nanoparticles. Rough estimates of the growth rate and size distribution of neutral nanoparticles are derived despite the fact that the sample data of intermediate ion measurements is not accompanied by simultaneous measurements of the background aerosol and ionization rate. In the case of a near-median intermediate ion concentration of 21 ± 2 cm−3 in the urban air of a small town, the growth rate of nanoparticles is estimated to be about 2 nm h−1, while the growth flux or apparent nucleation rate is about 0.5 cm−3 s−1 at 3 nm and about 0.08 cm−3 s−1 at 7 nm. The results suggest that the process of new particle formation is not interrupted during the quiet periods between events of intensive nucleation of atmospheric aerosols.

Citation: Tammet, H., Komsaare, K., and Hõrrak, U.: Estimating neutral nanoparticle steady state size distribution and growth according to measurements of intermediate air ions, Atmos. Chem. Phys. Discuss., 13, 13519-13540, doi:10.5194/acpd-13-13519-2013, 2013.
 
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