Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Simultaneous Analysis of the Equilibrium Hygroscopicity and Water Transport Kinetics of Liquid Aerosol

James F. Davies , Allen E. Haddrell , Andrew MJ Rickards , and Jonathan Philip Reid
We demonstrate that the equilibrium hygroscopic response of an aerosol droplet and the kinetics of water condensation and evaporation can be retrieved with high accuracy, even close to saturation, through comparative measurements of probe and sample aerosol droplets. The experimental methodology is described and is based on an electrodynamic balance with a newly designed trapping chamber. Through use of a probe aerosol, composed of either pure water or a sodium chloride solution of known concentration, the gas phase relative humidity (RH) can be accurately measured with an uncertainty of typically <0.005. By fast manipulation of the airflows into the chamber, a step-change in RH over a timescale <0.5 s can be achieved. Using this approach, the kinetics of mass transfer are studied using the comparative procedure, and results are compared to theoretical mass flux predictions. The time-dependent measured mass fluxes for sodium chloride, ammonium sulfate, sorbitol and galactose are used to calculate droplet water activities as a function of the droplet growth factor, allowing retrieval of a hygroscopic growth curve in a matter of seconds. Comparisons with both new and established thermodynamic predictions of hygroscopicity, as well as to optical tweezers measurements, are presented, demonstrating good agreement within the experimental uncertainties.
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