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A numerical study of the particle size distribution of an aerosol undergoing turbulent coagulation

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  25 July 2000

International Paper, 6285 Tri-Ridge Blvd., Loveland, OH 45140, USA
Department of Chemical Engineering, The Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA 16802, USA


Coagulation and growth of aerosol particles subject to isotropic turbulence has been explored using direct numerical simulations. The computations follow the trajectories of 262 144 initial particles as they are convected by the turbulent flow field. Collision between two parent particles leads to the formation of a new daughter particle with the mass and momentum (but not necessarily the energy) of the parent particles. The initially monodisperse population of particles will develop a size distribution over time that is controlled by the collision dynamics. In an earlier study, Sundaram & Collins (1997) showed that collision rates in isotropic turbulence are controlled by two statistics: (i) the radial distribution of the particles and (ii) the relative velocity probability density function. Their study considered particles that rebound elastically; however, we find that the formula that they derived is equally valid in a coagulating system. However, coagulation alters the numerical values of these statistics from the values they attain for the elastic rebound case. This difference is substantial and must be taken into consideration to properly predict the evolution of the size distribution of a population of particles. The DNS results also show surprising trends in the relative breadth of the particle size distribution. First, in all cases, the standard deviation of the particle size distribution of particles with finite Stokes numbers is much larger than the standard deviation for either the zero-Stokes-number or infinite-Stokes-number limits. Secondly, for particles with small initial Stokes numbers, the standard deviation of the final particle size distribution decreases with increasing initial particle size; however, the opposite trend is observed for particles with slightly larger initial Stokes numbers. An explanation for these phenomena can be found by carefully examining the functional dependence of the radial distribution function on the particle size and Stokes number.

Research Article
© 2000 Cambridge University Press

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