CFD simulation of an aerosol mixing chamber

In the last years, the correlation between air pollution and health issues related to respiratory, cardiovascular and digestive systems has become evident. Today, urban aerosols raise the interest of both scientific community and public opinion. METAS, the Swiss Federal Institute of Metrology, takes part in AeroTox, a European Union’s research project involving the development of a reference aerosol calibration infrastructure - a so-called mixing chamber. In this chamber, pure air and particles are injected on top and the resulting aerosol is sampled at the bottom. The quality of this aerosol is assessed according to its concentration homogeneity: the purpose of this master’s project is to improve it. In addition, two research questions were addressed. How much can the mixing chamber dimensions be reduced without affecting the concentration homogeneity? Dimensions are crucial because the mixing chamber must be transportable. Also, how much can the flow rates be reduced without affecting the concentration homogeneity? Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) simulations and experiments were employed. Numerical simulations were performed in COMSOL Multiphysics, implementing a particle tracing and a diluted species model. This allowed to investigate the structure of the flow and the involved mixing mechanisms: diffusion, convection and turbulent dispersion. However, only the diluted species model was successful. The simulated concentration at the outlet is perfectly homogeneous. Experiments were carried out using two particle size distributions: NaCl (size peak at 80 nm) and Polystyrene Latex (PSL, size peak at 900 nm). Empirical data validate simulations and show a concentration homogeneity within 5%. Furthermore, uncertainty on the measurements is of 4.24%: the simulated concentration homogeneity thus lies within the uncertainty of the experimental findings. Moreover, experiments show that salt particles reach a higher concentration homogeneity than PSL particles. Finally, in case of salt particles, experiments prove that the flow rates can be halved and even equalized and the length of the mixing chamber can be reduced to 50% without drastically affecting the concentration homogeneity.

Sawley, Mark

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 Record created 2020-10-10, last modified 2020-10-25

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