This study involved challenging nuclear grade high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters under a variety of conditions that can arise in Department of Energy (DOE) applications such as: low or high RH, controlled and uncontrolled challenge, and filters with physically damaged media or seals (i.e., leaks). Reported findings correlate filter function as measured by traditional differential pressure techniques in comparison with simultaneous instrumental determination of up and down stream PM concentrations. Additionally, emission rates and failure signatures will be discussed for filters that have either failed or exceeded their usable lifetime. Significant findings from this effort include the use of thermocouples up and down stream of the filter housing to detect the presence of moisture. Also demonstrated in the moisture challenge series of tests is the effect of repeated wetting of the filter. This produces a phenomenon referred to as transient failure before the tensile strength of the media weakens to the point of physical failure. An evaluation of the effect of particle size distribution of the challenge aerosol on loading capacity of filters is also included. Results for soot and two size distributions of KCl are reported. Loading capacities for filters ranged from approximately 70 g of soot to nearly 900 g for the larger particle size distribution of KCl.

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