Air quality researchers can obtain results much faster and at less cost with a compact cutting-edge particle counter introduced today at the annual American Association for Aerosol Research’s conference by Brechtel Manufacturing Inc. of Hayward, CA.

“Our new MCPC can fit on the wing of a transpacific-bound plane that helps NASA determine how much airborne pollution is reaching the U.S. West Coast from Asia,” says BMI CEO Fred J. Brechtel, a Bay Area scientist and product innovator.

“Or the MCPC can detect disease particles as small as 5 nanometers in a hospital environment. The device is small, versatile and affordable for myriad air quality-testing applications,” says Dr. Brechtel. “We think it could revolutionize our understanding of the quality of the air we breathe in indoor and outdoor environments and help save lives.”

MCPC stands for Mixing Condensation Particle Counter. Unlike earlier generation particle counters used for aerosol measurements, the MCPC uses a turbulent mixing process that grows particles rapidly, so they can be detected more quickly. Current scanning size distribution measurements suffer from slow detector response times with varying results. The MCPC is four times more effective. The unit is small enough to be used in confined spaces and simple enough to be operated by non-technical personnel.

The U.S. National Oceanic and Space Administration will attach the MCPC and other miniature BMI samplers to an unmanned aerial vehicle to help assess climate change in the Arctic next spring. Numerous research flights will determine the concentration and presence of light-absorbing soot particles that are likely responsible for rapid warming in the Arctic region.

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The MCPC can also detect harmful airborne diseases as well as weaponized particles released by terrorists.

Specifically, it can also be used as a detector in fast-particle sizing systems (SEMS and HTDMAs) to determine the input size distributions of particles and droplets for models of human airway exposure to harmful ambient particles too small to be seen by the human eye or many current detection systems.

The extremely sensitive device may be used in industrial applications like clean room monitoring to monitor for very low concentrations of airborne particles that can contaminate silicon wafers and other products.