The Continuous Measurement of Sulfur-Containing Aerosols by Flame Photometry: A Laboratory Study

  • James J. Huntzicker
  • Robert S. Hoffman
Part of the Environmental Science Research book series (ESRH, volume 13)


Aerosols of H2SO4, (NH4)2SO4, and Na2SO4 have been continuously measured in the laboratory with a sulfur-specific flame photometer. Separation of the aerosol sulfur from gaseous sulfur (SO2 and H2S) was achieved by a diffusion stripper upstream of the flame photometer. The stripper is a tube coated with a substance which adsorbs SO2 and H2S. These gases diffuse rapidly to the wall where they are scavenged, but particles with much lower diffusion coefficients are efficiently transmitted. The flame photometer responds to (NH4)2SO4 as [S]1.9 and to H2SO4 as [S]1.6 where [S] is the sulfur concentration. Above 2 µg(S)/m3 the response to (NH4)2SO4 exceeded the H2SO4 response. An experiment involving signal averaging of the flame photometer output produced an order of magnitude improvement in the signal to noise ratio and indicated that a limit of detection of 0.5 µg/m3 of sulfur (i.e., 1.5 µg/m3 of SO4=) or lower can be expected. When a heater was inserted upstream of the diffusion stripper, the response to H2SO4 decreased to zero between 70 and 135°C and to (NH4)2SO4 between 140 and 220°C. These phenomena result from the conversion of the aerosol sulfur to H2SO4, SO3, and SO2 gases which are scavenged at the walls of the heater and the diffusion stripper. Both the characteristic H2SO4 and (NH4)2SO4 thermal profiles were observed in a H2SO4/(NH4)2SO4 aerosol more acidic than NH4HSO4.


Aerosol Sulfur Flame Photometer Flame Photometry Particulate Sulfur Metal Sulfate 
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Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1978

Authors and Affiliations

  • James J. Huntzicker
    • 1
  • Robert S. Hoffman
    • 1
  1. 1.Oregon Graduate CenterBeavertonUSA

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