Articles | Volume 3, issue 2
Regular research article
24 Nov 2014
Regular research article |  | 24 Nov 2014

Characterization of ash particles with a microheater and gas-sensitive SiC field-effect transistors

C. Bur, M. Bastuck, A. Schütze, J. Juuti, A. Lloyd Spetz, and M. Andersson

Abstract. Particle emission from traffic, power plants or, increasingly, stoves and fireplaces poses a serious risk for human health. The harmfulness of the particles depends not only on their size and shape but also on adsorbates. Particle detectors for size and concentration are available on the market; however, determining content and adsorbents is still a challenge.

In this work, a measurement setup for the characterization of dust and ash particle content with regard to their adsorbates is presented. For the proof of concept, ammonia-contaminated fly ash samples from a coal-fired power plant equipped with a selective non-catalytic reduction (SNCR) system were used. The fly ash sample was placed on top of a heater substrate situated in a test chamber and heated up to several hundred degrees. A silicon carbide field-effect transistor (SiC-FET) gas sensor was used to detect desorbing species by transporting the headspace above the heater to the gas sensor with a small gas flow. Accumulation of desorbing species in the heater chamber followed by transfer to the gas sensor is also possible.

A mass spectrometer was placed downstream of the sensor as a reference. A clear correlation between the SiC-FET response and the ammonia spectra of the mass spectrometer was observed. In addition, different levels of contamination can be distinguished. Thus, with the presented setup, chemical characterization of particles, especially of adsorbates which contribute significantly to the harmfulness of the particles, is possible.