Investigation of the absorption Ångström exponent and its relation to physicochemical properties for mini-CAST soot

In this work, a mini-CAST soot generator was used to produce soot with different optical and physicochemical characteristics. Absorption Ångström exponents (AAE) expressing the absorption wavelength dependence were assessed by multiwavelength in-situ and filter-based (aethalometer) laser extinction. The two optical techniques showed good agreement. For the chosen mini-CAST operating conditions, AAEs between 1 and 3.5 were found. Soot with high mass-fractions of organic carbon (OC) and pyrolytic carbon (PC) determined with thermal optical analysis were associated with AAEs significantly higher than 1. Heating to 250 and 500°C removed the majority of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons. However, the thermal-optical analysis revealed that OC and PC were abundant in the soot with AAE > 2 also after heating the aerosol. Analysis of mass absorption cross section ratios for elemental carbon and OC indicated that elevated AAEs also after heating to 500°C could be related to persistent OC and PC components and/or the refractory soot. By comparing the mini-CAST soot optical properties with soot properties derived from in-situ extinction measurements in a premixed flame, mini-CAST soot with a higher AAE could be identified as less mature soot.

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