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Design and Performance of a Dynamic Gas Flux Chamber

Reichman, Rivka, Rolston, Dennis E.
Journal of environmental quality 2002 v.31 no.6 pp. 1774-1781
air, cooling, field experimentation, soil
Chambers are commonly used to measure the emission of many trace gases and chemicals from soil. An aerodynamic (flow through) chamber was designed and fabricated to accurately measure the surface flux of trace gases. Flow through the chamber was controlled with a small vacuum at the outlet. Due to the design using fans, a partition plate, and aerodynamic ends, air is forced to sweep parallel and uniform over the entire soil surface. A fraction of the air flowing inside the chamber is sampled in the outlet. The air velocity inside the chamber is controlled by fan speed and outlet suction flow rate. The chamber design resulted in a uniform distribution of air velocity at the soil surface. Steady state flux was attained within 5 min when the outlet air suction rate was 20 L/min or higher. For expected flux rates, the presence of the chamber did not affect the measured fluxes at outlet suction rates of around 20 L/min, except that the chamber caused some cooling of the surface in field experiments. Sensitive measurements of the pressure deficit across the soil layer in conjunction with measured fluxes in the source box and chamber outlet show that the outflow rate must be controlled carefully to minimize errors in the flux measurements. Both over- and underestimation of the fluxes are possible if the outlet flow rate is not controlled carefully. For this design, the chamber accurately measured steady flux at outlet air suction rates of approximately 20 L/min when the pressure deficit within the chamber with respect to the ambient atmosphere ranged between 0.46 and 0.79 Pa.