The influence of dynamic chamber design and operating parameters on calculated surface-to-air mercury fluxes

C. S. Eckley, M. Gustin*, C. J. Lin, X. Li, M. B. Miller

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

88 Citations (Scopus)


Dynamic Flux Chambers (DFCs) are commonly applied for the measurement of non-point source mercury (Hg) emissions from a wide range of surfaces. A standard operating protocol and design for DFCs does not exist, and as a result there is a large diversity in methods described in the literature. Because natural and anthropogenic non-point sources are thought to contribute significantly to the atmosphere Hg pool, development of accurate fluxes during field campaigns is essential. The objective of this research was to determine how differences in chamber material, sample port placement, vertical cross sectional area/volume, and flushing flow rate influence the Hg flux from geologic materials. Hg fluxes measured with a Teflon chamber were higher than those obtained using a polycarbonate chamber, with differences related to light transmission and substrate type. Differences in sample port placement (side versus top) did not have an influence on Hg fluxes. When the same flushing flow rate was applied to two chambers of different volumes, higher fluxes were calculated for the chamber with the smaller volume. Conversely, when two chambers with different volumes were maintained at similar turnover times, the larger volume chamber yielded higher Hg fluxes. Overall, the flushing flow rate and associated chamber turnover time had the largest influence on Hg flux relative to the other parameters tested. Results from computational fluid dynamic (CFD) modeling inside a DFC confirm that the smaller diffusion resistance at higher flushing flows contributes to the higher measured flux. These results clearly illustrate that differences in chamber design and operation can significantly influence the resulting calculated Hg flux, and thus impact the comparability of results obtained using DFC designs and/or operating parameters. A protocol for determining a flushing flow rate that results in fluxes less affected by chamber operating conditions and design is proposed. Application of this protocol would provide a framework for comparison of data from different studies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)194-203
Number of pages10
JournalAtmospheric Environment
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2010
Externally publishedYes


  • Atmosphere/surface exchange
  • Dynamic flux chamber
  • Emissions
  • Flux
  • Geologic materials
  • Mercury


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