Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Tracing ultra-fine dust

Limit values for fine dust emissions are based on total particle weight. It is the ultra-fine particles, however, that are particularly harmful to health. A new technique separates them by size and identifies their composition - directly where they arise.

Fine particle emissions have been the subject of heated debate for years. People who live near industrial plants see the smoke being discharged into the atmosphere and wonder how harmful it is.

But visible emissions are not always the most harmful. The highest risk is posed by fine dust particles which can easily penetrate the human organism. These ultra-fine particles are difficult to measure, however, because they are less than 100 nanometers in diameter.

Research scientists at the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT in Aachen have developed a technique by which the composition of such particles can be precisely analyzed. "The statutory limit values for fine particle emissions are based on the total particle weight," explains Dr. Cord Fricke-Begemann, project manager at the ILT. "Large particles are, however, much heavier than small ones. Weight measurements do not provide any information on the quantity of ultra-fine particles in the fine dust, but they are often more harmful than the larger particles."

The measurement technique developed by the research scientists consists of two steps. A gas stream separates the particles into size classes before they are collected on filters. Their composition is then examined by means of laser emission spectroscopy. "We are therefore able to identify harmful heavy and transition metals, such as zinc, in the fine dust, and also to ascertain the particle size at which they become particularly enriched," explains Fricke-Begemann. A key aspect of the method is that it delivers the results in less than 20 minutes. What's more, it can work at a high throughput rate and enables measurements to be taken directly on site - e.g. in steel plants. Emission values can be measured and monitored in real time during production thanks to a further development of the technique in which the particles are continuously drawn off via an air tube and analyzed.

All industrial plants produce fine dust emissions, and every process leaves behind a characteristic "fingerprint" of the particle composition and size distribution. With their measurement method the scientists can test the air in nearby residential areas and identify where the particles are from. They can also help to develop strategies for reducing emissions from the plants concerned.

Dr. Cord Fricke-Begemann
Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT
Steinbachstraße 15
52074 Aachen
Tel. +49 241 8906-196
Fax. +49 241 8906-121

Axel Bauer | Fraunhofer Gesellschaft
Further information:

More articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation:

nachricht Invasive Insects Cost the World Billions Per Year
04.10.2016 | University of Adelaide

nachricht Malaysia's unique freshwater mussels in danger
27.09.2016 | The University of Nottingham Malaysia Campus

All articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Novel light sources made of 2D materials

Physicists from the University of Würzburg have designed a light source that emits photon pairs. Two-photon sources are particularly well suited for tap-proof data encryption. The experiment's key ingredients: a semiconductor crystal and some sticky tape.

So-called monolayers are at the heart of the research activities. These "super materials" (as the prestigious science magazine "Nature" puts it) have been...

Im Focus: Etching Microstructures with Lasers

Ultrafast lasers have introduced new possibilities in engraving ultrafine structures, and scientists are now also investigating how to use them to etch microstructures into thin glass. There are possible applications in analytics (lab on a chip) and especially in electronics and the consumer sector, where great interest has been shown.

This new method was born of a surprising phenomenon: irradiating glass in a particular way with an ultrafast laser has the effect of making the glass up to a...

Im Focus: Light-driven atomic rotations excite magnetic waves

Terahertz excitation of selected crystal vibrations leads to an effective magnetic field that drives coherent spin motion

Controlling functional properties by light is one of the grand goals in modern condensed matter physics and materials science. A new study now demonstrates how...

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

Prototype device for measuring graphene-based electromagnetic radiation created

28.10.2016 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Gamma ray camera offers new view on ultra-high energy electrons in plasma

28.10.2016 | Physics and Astronomy

When fat cells change their colour

28.10.2016 | Life Sciences

More VideoLinks >>>