Development of Cost-effective, Compact Electrical Ultrafine Particle (eUFP) Sizers and Wireless eUFP Sensor Network

EPA Grant Number: R835132
Title: Development of Cost-effective, Compact Electrical Ultrafine Particle (eUFP) Sizers and Wireless eUFP Sensor Network
Investigators: Chen, Da-Ren , Lu, Chenyang
Institution: Washington University
Current Institution: Washington University , Virginia Commonwealth University
EPA Project Officer: Chung, Serena
Project Period: September 1, 2012 through August 31, 2015 (Extended to August 31, 2016)
Project Amount: $499,130
RFA: Developing the Next Generation of Air Quality Measurement Technology (2011) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: Air Quality and Air Toxics , Air


Recent air quality and epidemiological studies show that ultrafine particles (UFPs) may be particularly relevant to pulmonary and cardiovascular diseases, cancer and mortality, as indicated by studies on both acute and long term effects. It is because of the size, surface area, chemical composition, diffusivity and ability to translocate through the epithelium of terminal bronchioles and alveoli of UFPs. UFPs are omnipresent in the ambient and dominate in PM size distributions with respect to the number and surface area concentrations. UFPs are primarily traffic related in urban areas, consisting of “fresh” combustion emissions from vehicles whereas UPFs in rural areas are typically formed via the nucleation of gaseous pollutants, for instance, from H2SO4. It is thus necessary to establish the air quality network for UFP monitoring, especially in the heavy traffic areas (e.g., in a city), along highways and in the residual proximity to highways. To meet the above UFP monitoring task we propose to develop cost-effective, compact eUFP sizers and their wireless mesh network. Specific objectives of this proposed project are (i) to develop a cost-effective, portable electrical ultrafine particle (eUFP) sizer, enabling the spatial and temporal monitoring of UFP size distribution in the ambient; (ii) to develop a cost-effective, pocket eUFP sizer for measuring the UFP exposure at the personal level; (iii) to develop a wireless mesh network using proposed portable sizers as the nodes, enabling to monitor the working status of deployed sizers and to acquire data being collected via internet; (iv) to evaluate and validate proposed technologies in planned field testing.


We propose to develop eUFP sizers and their wireless mesh network in three phases. Phase 1 will be focused on the development of miniature components for proposed eUFP sizers. Components to be used in the sizers are (i) mini- unipolar UFP charger to electrically charge UFPs; (ii) mini- dumbbell electrical aerosol classifier to size charged particles based on their electrical mobility; (iii) mini- sensitive aerosol electrometer for detecting charges on particles; and (iv) mini- aerosol cyclones as the sizer inlets for long term operation. Proposed sizers will be integrated, calibrated and evaluated in the Phase 2. The proposed wireless mesh network will be also developed in Phase 2. Two small scale field validation of proposed technology will be performed in the Phase 3 to gain the experience on the adaptability and reliability of proposed sizers and their wireless mesh network when deployed in the field.

Expected Results:

eUFP sizers in both portable and pocket packages, and wireless mesh network using portable sizers as the nodes will be developed upon the success of proposed project. The cost of each sizer is estimated at $1000.00 (or less) when produced in large quantity and measuring cycle of each sizer can be varied from 35 sec. to 3 min. The development of proposed wireless mesh network makes it feasible and sustainable to monitor temporal UFP distribution in a broad ground surface area without incurring serve charge as cellular networks or costly internet infrastructure for Access Points as WiFi network. Future air quality, PM health and epidemiological study communities will benefit the most from the success of proposed project.

Publications and Presentations:

Publications have been submitted on this project: View all 15 publications for this project

Journal Articles:

Journal Articles have been submitted on this project: View all 5 journal articles for this project

Supplemental Keywords:

measurement methods, particulates, air pollution and control, personal exposure;

Progress and Final Reports:

  • 2013 Progress Report
  • 2014 Progress Report
  • 2015 Progress Report
  • Final Report