Brandon Boor receives NSF CAREER Award for indoor air quality research
Brandon Boor, Assistant Professor in the Lyles School of Civil Engineering, is the recipient of a CAREER Award from the National Science Foundation (NSF) for his research into the formation, growth, and phase state of organic nanoaerosols in indoor environments. The continuing grant of $500,000 will help fund his research through 2024.
More information on this award is available on the NSF's website at https://www.nsf.gov/awardsearch/showAward?AWD_ID=1847493
Formation, Growth, and Phase State of Organic Nanoaerosols in Indoor Environments (Abstract)
Although air pollution from automobiles, factories, and other outdoor sources is well-recognized as a potential health risk by the public, Americans spend 90% of their time indoors. It is thus essential to improve the quality of air in homes and offices. Human exposure to particles in air pollution is responsible for adverse health effects. An important class of indoor particles are nanoaerosols - particles smaller than 100 nanometers in size. New research is needed to better understand the fate and transport of nanoaerosols in buildings to better predict human exposure. The goals of this CAREER development plan are to elucidate the fundamental mechanisms governing the dynamics of indoor nanoaerosols and to inspire a new generation of engineers to solve emerging indoor air quality (IAQ) challenges. This research will provide a foundation to transform our ability to improve IAQ and promote human health.
The proposed research seeks to understand the complex formation, growth, and transformation of organic nanoaerosols (nOA) in indoor environments. The specific research objectives are to: 1) investigate nOA formation mechanisms down to molecular length scales using state-of-the-art aerosol instrumentation; 2) explore nOA coagulation and condensational growth dynamics; 3) discover how size-resolved nOA phase state is influenced by indoor nOA source type, relative humidity, temperature, and molecular composition; 4) elucidate the role of nOA phase state on hygroscopic growth/shrinkage and filtration kinetics; and 5) characterize nOA dynamics in occupied environments through field campaigns at the Purdue ReNEWW House (Retrofit Net-zero: Energy, Water, and Waste) and Herrick Living Lab offices. This research will transform our ability to observe nOA nucleation events at the nanometer level, thereby establishing how nOA formation, growth, and phase state vary with different indoor nOA sources. New knowledge on how nOA transformations influence deposition on heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) filters will be produced. This research will utilize full-scale building test systems to understand nOA transport, transformation, and exposure under realistic building operations. An educational framework will be developed that will inspire a new and diverse generation of civil and environmental engineering students to solve IAQ challenges facing the U.S. and global community. Through a combination of service, experiential, and team-based learning, this CAREER education plan will engage and excite undergraduate and graduate students at Purdue University in a holistic way. International IAQ projects in Kenya and outreach events at the ReNEWW House will offer a platform for demonstrations of the nOA research to the general public.