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Knowing your nanos

Helsinki Aerosol Consulting
Helsinki Aerosol Consulting was founded recently to provide state-of-the-art services for measuring nanoparticle concentrations, modelling aerosol formation, and developing theoretical solutions to aerosol-related problems.

Nano-sized particles can be very useful in a wide variety of applications, from industrial processes to coatings and medicine. In addition to their usefulness, however, nanoparticles have a downside: if inhaled in high concentrations, they can pose a health risk.

Protecting people against these and other risks calls for detailed data on things such as the concentration and properties of indoor aerosol particles. Research into the health-related impact of nanoparticles is moving ahead all the time and the pressure to introduce tougher standards to regulate particulate concentrations in the air we breathe is growing, particularly covering the smallest sizes (PM2.5) of particles, which can penetrate deep into our lungs.

Anyone wanting either to use or eliminate nanoparticles is likely to benefit from Helsinki Aerosol Consulting’s expertise – in the shape of more efficient processes, improved products, a safer working environment, and cleaner indoor air.

This is where Helsinki Aerosol Consulting comes in. Founded in 2008 as a spin-off from the University of Helsinki, a renowned centre of aerosol research, the company specialises in aerosol and nanoparticle technologies and modelling, and has a team with over 100 scientific publications in the field to its name.

Model it

Helsinki Aerosol Consulting has extensive expertise in applying detailed 0-dimensional box modelling to aerosol processes, and uses dedicated software to model aerosol particles in moving fluids, for example.

Numerical modelling of the chemical and physical changes that aerosol particle populations undergo in different environments is essential to understanding the processes at work. Helsinki Aerosol Consulting draws on the latest research on the formation and growth of particles, loss of particles by deposition and coagulation agglomeration, and the chemical evolution of particulate matter to identify how an aerosol will behave in a particular application – and why.

Measure it

Aerosol particles come in a multitude of sizes, compositions, and shapes, and their concentration can vary by factors of hundreds of thousands, which means that the ability to characterise aerosol concentrations and particle size distributions is also key to understanding their behaviour.

Helsinki Aerosol Consulting can help its customers choose the most appropriate measurement technique to provide them with size distribution and concentration measurements for the aerosol they are working with. Its aerosol characterisation suite delivers hard data on exactly how a filter, for example, impacts phenomena such as aerosol size distribution. This and other information is used in the company’s safety consulting work to outline potential hazards related to nanoparticles and identify the best methods for keeping concentrations to safe levels.

> Joonas Vanhanen
(Published in HighTech Finland 2010)