Preprints
https://doi.org/10.5194/acp-2021-417
https://doi.org/10.5194/acp-2021-417

  08 Jun 2021

08 Jun 2021

Review status: a revised version of this preprint is currently under review for the journal ACP.

Surface charge of environmental and radioactive airborne particles

Gyoung Gug Jang1,, Alexander I. Wiechert2,, Austin P. Ladshaw1, Tyler Spano1, Joanna McFarlane1, Kristian Myhre1, Sotira Yiacoumi2, and Costas Tsouris1,2 Gyoung Gug Jang et al.
  • 1Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Oak Ridge, TN 37831-6181, United States
  • 2Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, GA 30332-0373, United States
  • These authors contributed equally to this work.

Abstract. Self-charging of radioactive uranium oxide particles was measured by comparing the electrostatic surface-charge characteristics of the uranium particles to various airborne dust particulates. Though radioactive aerosols can gain charge through various decay mechanisms, researchers have traditionally assumed that the radioactive aerosols do not carry any additional charge relative to other atmospheric dust particles as a consequence of charge neutralization over time. In this work, we evaluate this assumption by directly examining the surface charge and charge density on airborne uranium oxide particles and then comparing those characteristics with charging of other natural and engineered airborne dust particles. Based on electric field–assisted particle levitation in air, the surface charge, charge distribution as a function of particle size, and surface charge density were determined for uranium oxide aerosols (< 1 µm) and other nonradioactive dusts, including urban dust, Arizona desert dust, hydrophilic and hydrophobic silica nanoparticles, and graphene oxide powders. Of these dusts, uranium oxide aerosols exhibited the highest surface change density. Additionally, a self-charging model was employed to predict average charge gained from radioactive decay as a function of time. The experimental and theoretical results suggest that radioactive self-charging likely occurs on airborne particles containing radionuclides and may potentially affect the transport of radioactive particles in the atmosphere.

Gyoung Gug Jang et al.

Status: final response (author comments only)

Comment types: AC – author | RC – referee | CC – community | EC – editor | CEC – chief editor | : Report abuse
  • RC1: 'Comment on acp-2021-417', Anonymous Referee #1, 15 Jun 2021
    • RC2: 'Reply on RC1', Anonymous Referee #2, 06 Jul 2021
  • AC1: 'Comment on acp-2021-417', Gyoung Jang, 03 Oct 2021

Gyoung Gug Jang et al.

Gyoung Gug Jang et al.

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Short summary
This manuscript is focused on the charge of particles in the atmosphere, including radioactive particles subjected to self-charging and diffusion-charging mechanisms. The microphysical charge and morphology characterization can be used to improve predictions of charged particle transport in the atmosphere including radioactive particles originating from nuclear accidents, such as the recent accident of Fukushima, Japan, or deliberate explosions of radiological dispersal devices.
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