lab studies


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method & theory development


Particle Source Profiling and Apportionment

In the laboratory we produce sources of primary aerosol (direct emission) and secondary aerosol (formed from gas-to-particle conversion) using the emissions/combustion chamber and PAM photochemical reaction chamber, and detect those emissions using our high frequency measurement techniques (e.g., TAG-AMS, VAPS, PTRMS, MC-TDMA, optical measurements, etc.) (see INSTRUMENTATION page). Many primary chemical source profiles have been developed for common particle emission sources (e.g., vehicle exhaust, biomass burning). We intend to extend upon those chemical profiles and include many new source types, as well as develop secondary aerosol source profiles.

These new chemical profiles will be used to identify the major contributing sources of ambient particulate matter (where our main focus is on the organic fraction) for both indoor and outdoor environments.


Biomass and Solid Fuel Combustion

In an attempt to meet new goals for renewable energy production, bioimass is now being utilized in novel ways (e.g., co-firing with coal, pyrolysis gasification). Additionally, much effort is being made on improved coal combustion efficiency such as recycled flue-gas and oxy-coal combustion. We currently have several projects to determine primary organic particle formation mechanisms from various methods of oxy-coal combustion, coal-biomass co-firing, and pyrolysis, as well as determining the potential for secondary organic particle formation once released in the atmosphere. 

We are also working to understand the chemical composition of primary and secondary aerosol from biomass burning (over a range of biomass fuel types) to characterize wildfire emissions and cookstove emissions. Here we utilize our emissions/combustion chamber and PAM photoreactor to produce primary and secondary biomass burning aerosol and detect those emissions using our novel instrumentation.


We are currently developing the TAG-AMS and VAPS systems in collaboration with Aerodyne Research Inc TAG-AMS development includes laboratory and field testing as well as software development (mostly for post data acquisition processing and analysis). VAPS development includes material testing to maximize mass transfer, integrated system development, and software development. We have also recently created a multi-channel tandem differential mobility analyzer (MC-TDMA) to provide particle size distributions, hygroscopicity, volatility, and more. All systems mentioned here are undergoing extensive laboratory and field testing. You can read more about these instruments under the INSTRUMENTATION tab on our website. 


Georgia Tech Lab and Field Studies (Summer/Fall 2017)

Photo by Ben Sumlin

Photo by Ben Sumlin

Tyson Research Center Controlled Fires (Winter/Spring 2017)

Lab Fire Study







Current Funded Projects


U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)

Indoor exposure to pollutants associated with oxidative chemistry: field studies and windowopening behavior

w/ G. Morrison, Nuran Ercal, Prem Lobo (Missouri Univ. of Sci. & Technol)



National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)

Intensive Optical Properties of Brown Carbon Aerosols for Satellite Retrievals and Climate Models

w/ R. Chakrabarty (WashU, EECE), W.M. Hao (USDA-Forest Service), B. Cairns, M. Chin, O. Kalashnikova, R. Levy, M. Mishchenko (NASA Goddard Space Flight Center)



National Science Foundation (NSF)

MRI: Acquisition of a High Resolution Proton-Transfer-Reaction Time-Of-Flight Mass Spectrometer (PTR-TOF-MS) for Research in Land And Atmospheric Science

w/ D. Millet, B. Toner, K. Yoo, K. Spokas (U.Minnesota, Dept. of Soil, Water, & Climate)



National Science Foundation (NSF)

Primary Emissions and Atmospheric Secondary Organic Aerosol Formation from Coal Combustion and Coal-Biomass Cofiring.

w/ P. Biswas (WashU, Chair of Dept. of Energy, Environ. & Chem. Engineering)



U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)

Novel Measurements of Volatility- and Polarity-Separated Organic Aerosol Composition and Associated Hygroscopicity to Investigate the Influence of Mixed Anthropogenic-Biogenic Emissions on Atmospheric Aging Processes. (Early Career)

4/01/2013 - 3/31/2016


National Science Foundation (NSF)

Atmospheric Fullerene Chemistry: Elucidating Oxidative Pathways and Characterization of Corresponding Derivatives

w/ J. Fortner (WashU, Dept. of Energy, Environ. & Chem. Engineering)

2/01/2013 – 1/31/2016


Department of Energy (DOE) SBIR Phase II

Volatility and Polarity Separated Total Organic Aerosol using Thermal Desorption Modulated Chromatography

w/ Aerodyne Research Inc., Aerosol Dynamics Inc., J. Jimenez (UC-Boulder)

9/01/2012 - 8/31/2015


International Center for Advanced Renewable Energy & Sustainability (ICARES)

Atmospheric Photochemistry and the Hydrological Fate of Black Carbon Soot Particles

w/ J. Fortner and B. Kumfer (WashU, Dept. of Energy, Environ. & Chem. Engineering), S. Hayes (WashU, Dept. of Chemistry)

5/01/2014 – 4/30/2015


Provost’s Interdisciplinary Teaching Grant Award

Introduction to Climate Change

w/ T.R. Kidder (Chair of WashU Department of Anthropology)



Current Projects without specific funding source


Chemical composition of electronic cigarette liquids and aerosols

w/ Walton Sumner (WashU, School of Medicine)



Chemical composition of pyrolysis and lignin-based biofuels

w/ Marcus Foston (WashU, Dept. of Energy, Environmental, & Chemical Engineering)



Chemical composition of aerosols from the combustion of various solid fuels in cookstoves

w/ Pratim Biswas, Anna Leavey, Sameer Patel (WashU, Dept. of Energy, Environmental, & Chemical Engineering)



Chemical composition of ambient particulate matter in New Delhi, India

w/ Suresh Tiwari (Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology)



Previous Funded Projects


Department of Energy (DOE) SBIR Phase I

Volatility and Polarity Separated Total Organic Aerosol using Thermal Desorption Modulated Chromatography

w/ Aerodyne Research Inc.

9/01/2011 - 8/31/2012


Department of Energy (DOE) SBIR Phase II

Volatility-Resolved Measurements of Total Gas-Phase Organic Compounds by High-Resolution Electron Impact Mass Spectrometry

w/ Aerodyne Research Inc., J. Kroll (MIT)

10/01/2010 - 9/30/2012


WashU Sustainable LandLab Competition

Sunflower+Project: StL

w/ Don Koster et al. (WashU, School of Design & Visual Arts)



Raymond R. Tucker Distinguished I-CARES Career-Development Assistant Professor Research Funding


McDonnell Academy Global Energy and Environmental Partnership (MAGEEP)

Biomass-Derived Particles in Engineered Systems and the Environment of India

w/ P.Biswas and J. Turner (WashU, Dept. of Energy, Environ. & Chem. Engineering), G. Yadama (WashU, School of Social Work), V. Sethi (IIT-Bombay)



International Center for Advanced Renewable Energy & Sustainability (ICARES)

Chemical Composition of Biomass Combustion Aerosol:  Direct Emissions and Atmospheric Processing

w/ P. Biswas (WashU, Chair of Dept. of Energy, Environ. & Chem. Engineering)

9/01/2011 - 8/31/2012