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Project Status: complete

Report Published April 1987:

Title: Field comparison of measurement methods for nitric acid

Principal Investigator / Author(s): Hering, Susanne V.

Contractor: Department of Chemical Engineering, UCLA

Contract Number: A4-164-32

Research Program Area: Atmospheric Processes


Eighteen instruments for measuring atmospheric concentrations of nitric acid were compared in an eight day field study at Pomona College, situated in the eastern portion of the Los Angeles Basin, in September 1985. The study design included collocated and separated duplicate samplers, and the analysis by each laboratory of a set of quality assurance filters, so that the experimental variability could be distinguished from differences due to measurement methods.

For all sampling periods, the values for nitric acid concentrations reported by the different instruments vary by as much as a factor of four. The differences among measurement techniques increased with nitric acid loading, corresponding to a coefficient of variation of 40%. In contrast, samplers of the same design operated by the same group show variability of 11% to 27%.

Overall, the highest reported concentrations are from the filter packs, lower concentrations are given by the annular denuders and tunable diode laser absorption spectrometers. When the nitric acid concentrations were high enough to be detected by the FTIR, the FTIR values are close to those obtained by the denuder difference method, and to the mean value from the other sampler methods.

In the absence of a reference standard for the entire study, measurement methods are compared to the average of four denuder ifference method samplers (DDM). Filter pack samplers are higher than the DDM for both daytime and nighttime sampling. Two different filter packs using Teflon prefilters are higher than the DDM by factors of 1.25 and 1.4. The results from the three annular denuders do not agree; the ratios of means to the DDM value are 1.0, 0.8 and 0.6. For the transition flow reactor method and for two dichotomous samplers operated as denuder difference samplers, the ratio of means to the DDM are 1.09 and 0.93 respectively. The tunable diode laser absorption spectrometers give lower daytime and higher nighttime readings compared to the DDM, especially during the last three days of the study. Averaged over the entire measurement period, the daytime ratio of TDLAS to DDM is 0.8 and the nighttime ratio is 1.7.


For questions regarding this research project, including available data and progress status, contact: Heather Choi at (916) 322-3893

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