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Size distribution and single particle characterization of airborne particulate matter collected in a silicon carbide plant

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Abstract

The global SiC market is projected to grow in the coming years, and research on potential health effects as well as epidemiological studies is therefore of importance. A detailed characterization in terms of the phase composition, morphology and mixing state of airborne PM is still missing, though highly necessary to identify sources and to understand the risk factors in this industry. Particles in the size range of 10 nm to 10 µm were collected with a 13-stage NanoMOUDI impactor in the Acheson Furnace Hall as well as in processing departments during two sampling campaigns. Particle mass concentrations, including the fraction of ultrafine particles (UFPs), were lower in the processing departments in comparison to those in the Acheson Furnace Hall. The particle number size distribution measured with a scanning mobility particle sizer confirmed the low amount of UFPs in the processing departments compared to the furnace hall. Significant differences in the particle mass concentration and distribution were observed in the Acheson Furnace Hall during the two sampling campaigns. The PM size distribution depends upon the sampling location, on the cycle of the nearby furnaces and on special incidents occurring during a furnace run. Scanning and transmission electron microscopy (SEM and TEM) showed that the size range of 0.32–10 µm (aerodynamic diameter) is dominated by carbon (C)-rich particles, which were identified as petroleum coke, graphite, soot and amorphous spherical C-rich particles. Soot was further classified into three types based on the primary particle size, morphology and composition. Diesel-powered vehicles, pyrolysis of petroleum coke and incomplete combustion of volatile components from this pyrolysis are suggested as sources of different soot particle types. Amorphous spherical C-rich particles were also sub-classified based on their morphology and composition as tar balls (TBs) and C-spherical type 2. The amount of SiC fibers and crystalline SiO2 was found to be low. In the size fraction below 0.32 µm (aerodynamic diameter), sulphur (S)-rich particles dominate. This knowledge of the particle size distribution, and chemical and physical properties of the PM occurring in the SiC production is fundamental for an appropriate risk assessment, and these findings should have implications for future epidemiological studies and for the mitigation of worker exposure.

Graphical abstract: Size distribution and single particle characterization of airborne particulate matter collected in a silicon carbide plant

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Publication details

The article was received on 08 Nov 2018, accepted on 20 Jan 2019 and first published on 21 Jan 2019


Article type: Paper
DOI: 10.1039/C8EM00518D
Citation: Environ. Sci.: Processes Impacts, 2019, Advance Article

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    Size distribution and single particle characterization of airborne particulate matter collected in a silicon carbide plant

    T. K. Ervik, N. Benker, S. Weinbruch, Y. Thomassen, D. G. Ellingsen and B. Berlinger, Environ. Sci.: Processes Impacts, 2019, Advance Article , DOI: 10.1039/C8EM00518D

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