Air ion mobility spectra and concentrations upwind and downwind of overhead AC high voltage power lines

Matthew D. Wright*, Alison J. Buckley, James C. Matthews, Dudley E. Shallcross, Denis L. Henshaw

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)


Corona ions produced by high-voltage power lines (HVPLs) can alter the nearby electrical environment, potentially increasing aerosol charge levels downwind. However, there is a lack of knowledge concerning the concentration and mobility of ions from AC HVPLs and their dispersion away from the line. We present ion concentration and mobility measurements made near AC HVPLs in South-West England. Examples of typical mobility spectra are shown highlighting features commonly observed. Corona was observed during 33 of 46 measurements, at 9 of 11 sites, with positive or 'bipolar' (both polarities) ion production commonly seen. Ion production usually increases atmospheric concentrations by only a modest amount, but extreme cases can enhance concentration by an order of magnitude or more. A polarity imbalance is required to increase aerosol charge via ion attachment; this was observed on 15 of 24 days when positive corona was observed, but was not seen for negative ions. Ion mobility was higher downwind compared with upwind for both ion polarities, but the increase was not statistically significant. Future work should focus on identifying and characterising 'heavy-producing' HVPLs, and obtaining results in conditions which may favour negative ion production e.g. high humidity, inclement weather or during nighttime.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)296-304
Number of pages9
JournalAtmospheric Environment
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2014


  • Charged particles
  • Corona discharge
  • Electrical mobility
  • Ion-aerosol attachment
  • Power lines
  • Small ions


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