The knowledge of charge distributions among aerosol particles has been an important topic for many years because of the strong electrostatic interactions which can greatly influence aerosol transport and evolution. Theoretical models have been developed although experimental verification has been limited because of the difficulty in measuring charged aerosols. Recently a method utilizing a tandem differential mobility analyzer (TDMA) has been shown to be applicable toward measuring both the size and charge distributions of nanosized combustion aerosols. The goal of this work is on further exploration of this method toward the measurement of non-combustion aerosols and in particular those associated with very high temperature reactors (VHTRs). The complete bipolar charge and size distributions of spark generated graphite, gold, silver, and palladium aerosol have been measured with a TDMA apparatus assembled and calibrated during this study. In addition, an electrostatic precipitator has been designed and constructed for measuring the size distributions of neutrally charged particles associated with these aerosols. The results show charge asymmetry in all measured aerosols with higher concentrations of positively charged particles than negative at the same charge level. These results differ from equilibrium charge distributions of both Boltzmann and Fuchs showing that charge equilibrium may not always be an appropriate assumption. The TDMA technique should find applications in characterizing VHTR aerosols and rate processes such as coagulation, deposition, and resuspension which will be important for both reactor design, and accident modeling and simulation.


Patrick A. Tebbe

Committee Member

Saeed Moaveni

Committee Member

Sudarshan K. Loyalka

Date of Degree




Document Type



Master of Science (MS)


Mechanical and Civil Engineering


Science, Engineering and Technology

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License



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