Performance evaluation of the cost-effective and lightweight Alphasense optical particle counter for use onboard unmanned aerial vehicles

Spyros Bezantakos, Fabian Schmidt-Ott, George Biskos

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)
99 Downloads (Pure)

Abstract

Air quality monitoring using airborne platforms is rapidly gaining ground as unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) are becoming easier, less expensive, and safer to operate on a routine basis. To facilitate measurements of key atmospheric properties, however, efforts are still required in developing/testing miniaturized instruments for use onboard UAVs. Here, we test two commercially available cost-effective/lightweight optical particle counters (OPCs; Alphasense Model N2) capable of measuring the size distributions of airborne particles having diameters from 380 nm to 17 μm. Tests were made against a reference and recently calibrated OPC (Grimm Model 1.109) using monodisperse polystyrene spheres. All instruments were placed in a chamber in which the temperature and pressure varied in the ranges of –5 to 23°C and 0.7 to 1.0 atm, respectively; conditions typically encountered during UAV flights. Agreement in the particle number concentrations measured by the Alphasense and the Grimm OPCs was within 40%, under all experimental conditions used in this work, when particles having sizes >1 μm were employed during the tests. Deviations higher than 50%, however, were observed when the instruments were tested with 1.0- and 0.8-μm polysterene spheres. The particle sizes reported by both Alphasense OPCs were within ± 5% with respect to the nominal polysterene spheres’ size under all operating pressures and temperatures down to 5°C. At lower temperatures, the sizing accuracy of one of the two Alphasense OPCs degraded significantly. While our findings support that the Alphasense OPCs can be used at low temperature/pressure conditions, they should be carefully tested prior the measurements to ensure good performance.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-8
Number of pages8
JournalAerosol Science and Technology
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 22 Dec 2017

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