Verifying mixing in dilution tunnels: How to ensure cookstove emissions samples are unbiased

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A well-mixed diluted sample is essential for unbiased measurement of cookstove emissions. Most cookstove testing labs employ a dilution tunnel, also referred to as a "duct," to mix clean dilution air with cookstove emissions before sampling. It is important that the emissions be well-mixed and unbiased at the sampling port so that instruments can take representative samples of the emission plume. Some groups have employed mixing baffles to ensure the gaseous and aerosol emissions from cookstoves are well-mixed before reaching the sampling location [2, 4]. The goal of these baffles is to to dilute and mix the emissions stream with the room air entering the fume hood by creating a local zone of high turbulence. However, potential drawbacks of mixing baffles include increased flow resistance (larger blowers needed for the same exhaust flow), nuisance cleaning of baffles as soot collects, and, importantly, the potential for loss of PM2.5 particles on the baffles themselves, thus biasing results.

A cookstove emission monitoring system with baffles will collect particles faster than the duct's walls alone. This is mostly driven by the available surface area for deposition by processes of Brownian diffusion (through the boundary layer) and turbophoresis (i.e. impaction). The greater the surface area available for diffusive and advection-driven deposition to occur, the greater the particle loss will be at the sampling port. As a layer of larger particle "fuzz" builds on the mixing baffles, even greater PM2.5 loss could occur. The micro structure of the deposited aerosol will lead to increased rates of particle loss by interception and a tendency for smaller particles to deposit due to impaction on small features of the micro structure. If the flow stream could be well-mixed without the need for baffles, these drawbacks could be avoided and the cookstove emissions sampling system would be more robust.

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