Journal cover Journal topic
Atmospheric Measurement Techniques An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union

Journal metrics

  • IF value: 3.089 IF 3.089
  • IF 5-year<br/> value: 3.700 IF 5-year
  • CiteScore<br/> value: 3.59 CiteScore
  • SNIP value: 1.273 SNIP 1.273
  • SJR value: 2.026 SJR 2.026
  • IPP value: 3.082 IPP 3.082
  • h5-index value: 45 h5-index 45
© Author(s) 2015. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.
Review article
16 Sep 2015
Review status
This discussion paper is a preprint. It has been under review for the journal Atmospheric Measurement Techniques (AMT). The revised manuscript was not accepted.
Thermal-optical analysis for the measurement of elemental carbon (EC) and organic carbon (OC) in ambient air a literature review
A. Karanasiou1, M. C. Minguillón1, M. Viana1, A. Alastuey1, J.-P. Putaud2, W. Maenhaut3, P. Panteliadis4, G. Močnik5, O. Favez6, and T. A. J. Kuhlbusch7 1Institute of Environmental Assessment and Water Research (IDAEA), Spanish Research Council (CSIC), Barcelona, Spain
2European Commission, Joint Research Centre, Institute of Environment and Sustainability, via E. Fermi, 2749, 21027 Ispra, Italy
3Department of Analytical Chemistry, Ghent University, Gent, 9000, Belgium
4GGD, Department of Air Quality, Public Health Service Amsterdam, 1018WT, the Netherlands
5Aerosol d.o.o., Ljubljana, Slovenia
6Institut National de l'Environnement Industriel et des Risques, Parc Technologique ALATA, 60550 Verneuil-en-Halatte, France
7Institute of Energy and Environmental Technology e.V. (IUTA), Bliersheimerstraße 58–60, 47229 Duisburg, Germany
Abstract. Thermal-optical analysis is currently under consideration by the European standardization body (CEN) as the reference method to quantitatively determine organic carbon (OC) and elemental carbon (EC) in ambient air. This paper presents an overview of the critical parameters related to the thermal-optical analysis including thermal protocols, critical factors and interferences of the methods examined, method inter-comparisons, inter-laboratory exercises, biases and artifacts, and reference materials. The most commonly used thermal protocols include NIOSH-like, IMPROVE_A and EUSAAR_2 protocols either with light transmittance or reflectance correction for charring. All thermal evolution protocols are comparable for total carbon (TC) concentrations but the results vary significantly concerning OC and especially EC concentrations. Thermal protocols with a rather low peak temperature in the inert mode like IMPROVE_A and EUSAAR_2 tend to classify more carbon as EC compared to NIOSH-like protocols, while charring correction based on transmittance usually leads to smaller EC values compared to reflectance. The difference between reflectance and transmittance correction tends to be larger than the difference between different thermal protocols. Nevertheless, thermal protocols seem to correlate better when reflectance is used as charring correction method. The difference between EC values as determined by the different protocols is not only dependent on the optical pyrolysis correction method, but also on the chemical properties of the samples due to different contributions from various sources. The overall conclusion from this literature review is that it is not possible to identify the "best" thermal-optical protocol based on literature data only, although differences attributed to the methods have been quantified when possible.

Citation: Karanasiou, A., Minguillón, M. C., Viana, M., Alastuey, A., Putaud, J.-P., Maenhaut, W., Panteliadis, P., Močnik, G., Favez, O., and Kuhlbusch, T. A. J.: Thermal-optical analysis for the measurement of elemental carbon (EC) and organic carbon (OC) in ambient air a literature review, Atmos. Meas. Tech. Discuss.,, 2015.
A. Karanasiou et al.
Interactive discussionStatus: closed
AC: Author comment | RC: Referee comment | SC: Short comment | EC: Editor comment
Printer-friendly Version - Printer-friendly version      Supplement - Supplement
RC C3942: 'Review#2 for amt_2015-217', Anonymous Referee #1, 19 Nov 2015 Printer-friendly Version Supplement 
AC C5165: 'Response to Referee#1', Angeliki Karanasiou, 25 Jan 2016 Printer-friendly Version Supplement 
RC C4246: 'Referee Comments', Anonymous Referee #2, 09 Dec 2015 Printer-friendly Version 
AC C5166: 'Response to Referee#2', Angeliki Karanasiou, 25 Jan 2016 Printer-friendly Version Supplement 
A. Karanasiou et al.
A. Karanasiou et al.


Total article views: 1,641 (including HTML, PDF, and XML)

HTML PDF XML Total BibTeX EndNote
825 752 64 1,641 41 62

Views and downloads (calculated since 16 Sep 2015)

Cumulative views and downloads (calculated since 16 Sep 2015)




Latest update: 22 Oct 2017
Publications Copernicus