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PTR-TOF technology contributes to CLOUD experiment at CERN

New results have been published by the CLOUD team in the prestigious journal „Nature“.

The CLOUD experiment at CERN (European Organization for Nuclear Research) reports a major advance towards solving a long-standing enigma in climate science: how do aerosols – tiny solid or liquid particles suspended in the air – form in the atmosphere, and which gases are responsible? This is a key question in understanding the climate, since aerosols cause a cooling effect by reflecting sunlight and by seeding cloud droplets.

Researchers found out that minute concentrations of amine vapours combine with sulphuric acid to form aerosol particles at rates similar to those observed in the atmosphere. Amines are emitted both from human activities such as animal husbandry, and from natural sources.

The PTR-TOF-MS technology was used to monitor the CLOUD aerosol-chamber by Prof. Armin Hansel and his team, Institute for Ion Physics and Applied Physics of the University of Innsbruck.

The CLOUD experiment’s unique ultra-clean chamber allowed the collaboration to demonstrate that the extremely low concentrations of amines typically found in the atmosphere – a few parts per trillion by volume – are sufficient to combine with sulphuric acid to form highly stable aerosol particles at high rates.

The measured sensitivity of aerosol formation to amines came as a surprise, and points to a potentially significant climate cooling mechanism. Moreover, since amine scrubbing is likely to become an important technology for capturing carbon dioxide emissions from fossil-fuelled power plants, this effect is likely to rise in future.

Well recognized universities and companies use the PTR-TOF 8000, our flagship model, to solve challenging problems in different fields ranging from environmental, to food, flavor and fragrance as well as life science applications.

The „Cosmics Leaving Outdoor Droplets“, or in short „CLOUD“ experiment started in 2009. We are a proud partner of the „CLOUD-TRAIN Marie Curie Initial Training Network“, a multi-site network consisting of 12 Ph.D. students and 3 post-docs working at 10 partner-institutions all over Europe.

Press release: EnglishDeutsch

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