Complete thermodynamically consistent kinetic model of particle nucleation and growth: Numerical study of the applicability of the classical theory of homogeneous nucleation

Evgeni N. Chesnokov, Lev N. Krasnoperov

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A complete thermodynamically consistent elementary reaction kinetic model of particle nucleation and growth from supersaturated vapor was developed and numerically evaluated to determine the conditions for the steady-state regime. The model treats all processes recognized in the aerosol science (such as nucleation, condensation, evaporation, agglomeration/coagulation, etc.) as reversible elementary reactions. It includes all possible forward reactions (i.e., of monomers, dimers, trimers, etc.) together with the thermodynamically consistent reverse processes. The model is built based on the Kelvin approximation, and has two dimensionless parameters: S0 - the initial supersaturation and Θ - the dimensionless surface tension. The time evolution of the size distribution function was obtained over the ranges of parameters S0 and Θ. At low initial supersaturations, S 0, the steady state is established after a delay, and the steady-state distribution function corresponds to the predictions of the classical nucleation theory. At high initial supersaturations, the depletion of monomers due to condensation on large clusters starts before the establishing of the steady state. The steady state is never reached, and the classical nucleation theory is not applicable. The boundary that separates these two regimes in the two dimensionless parameter space, S0 and Θ, was determined. The model was applied to several experiments on water nucleation in an expansion chamber [J. Wolk and R. Strey, J. Phys. Chem. B 105, 11683 (2001)] and in Laval nozzle [Y. J. Kim et al., J. Phys. Chem. A 108, 4365 (2004)]. The conditions of the experiments performed using Laval nozzle (50=40-120) were found to be close to the boundary of the non-steady-state regime. Additional calculations have shown that in the non-steady-state regime the nucleation rate is sensitive to the rate constants of the initial steps of the nucleation process, such as the monomer-monomer, monomer-dimer, etc., reactions. This conclusion is particularly important for nucleation from supersaturated water vapor, since these processes for water molecules at and below the atmospheric pressure are in the low pressure limit, and the rate constants can be several orders of magnitude lower than the gas kinetic. In addition, the impact of the thermodynamic inconsistency of the previously developed partially reversible kinetic numerical models was assessed. At typical experimental conditions for water nucleation, S0= 10 and Θ=10 (T=250 K), the error in the particle nucleation rate introduced by the thermodynamic inconsistency exceeds one order of magnitude.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number144504
JournalJournal of Chemical Physics
Issue number14
StatePublished - 2007

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Physics and Astronomy
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry


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