We have developed a new laminar aerosol flow tube (AFT) to study transformations such as ice nucleation, deliquescence, and efflorescence in model atmospheric aerosols. The apparatus consists of four sections which can be independently cooled to reproduce temperature profiles relevant to the troposphere and stratosphere. An automatic control system maintains the average axial temperature along each section between 100 and 300 K, within ±0.1 K. Changes in aerosol composition, phase, and size distribution are monitored at the tube exit using infrared spectroscopy (AFT-IR). We used computational fluid dynamics simulations to investigate flow velocity and temperature distributions within the flow tube. Based on these computations, the final design was formulated to eliminate turbulent mixing zones and buoyancy-driven convection cells. The latter can occur even under conditions where the Reynolds number indicates laminar flow. In either case, recirculation causes aerosol residence times and temperature histories to be poorly defined, leading to erroneous interpretation of experimental measurements. The resulting AFT design used copper fins to reduce temperature gradients and axial mixing of aerosol and carrier gas flows in the inlet section to reduce turbulence. The performance of the new AFT is significantly better than for previous designs.
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