National Aeronautics and Space Administration


Date of this Version



Aerosol Science and Technology, 48:467–479, 2014


U.S. Government Work


The Jing Ltd. miniature combustion aerosol standard (Mini- CAST) soot generator is a portable, commercially available burner that is widely used for laboratory measurements of soot processes. While many studies have used the Mini-CAST to generate soot with known size, concentration, and organic carbon fraction under a single or few conditions, there has been no systematic study of the burner operation over a wide range of operating conditions. Here, we present a comprehensive characterization of the microphysical, chemical, morphological, and hygroscopic properties of Mini- CAST soot over the full range of oxidation air and mixing N2 flow rates. Very fuel-rich and fuel-lean flame conditions are found to produce organic-dominated soot with mode diameters of 10–60 nm, and the highest particle number concentrations are produced under fuel-rich conditions. The lowest organic fraction and largest diameter soot (70–130 nm) occur under slightly fuel-lean conditions. Moving from fuel-rich to fuel-lean conditions also increases the O:C ratio of the soot coatings from ~0.05 to ~0.25, which causes a small fraction of the particles to act as cloud condensation nuclei near the Kelvin limit (κ ~ 0–10−3). Comparison of these property ranges to those reported in the literature for aircraft and diesel engine soots indicates that the Mini-CAST soot is similar to real-world primary soot particles, which lends itself to a variety of process-based soot studies. The trends in soot properties uncovered here will guide selection of burner operating conditions to achieve optimum soot properties that are most relevant to such studies.