Experimental methodology and procedure for SAPPHIRE: a Semi-automatic APParatus for High-voltage Ice nucleation REsearch

Jens Michael Löwe*, Markus Schremb, Volker Hinrichsen, Cameron Tropea

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

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Ice nucleation is of great interest for various processes such as cloud formation in the scope of atmospheric physics, and icing of airplanes, ships, or structures. Ice nucleation research aims to improve the knowledge about the physical mechanisms and to ensure the safety and reliability of the respective applications. Several influencing factors like liquid supercooling or contamination with nucleants, as well as external disturbances such as an electric field or surface defects, affect ice nucleation. Especially for ice crystal formation in clouds and icing of high-voltage equipment, an external electric field may also have a strong impact on ice nucleation. Although ice nucleation has been widely investigated for numerous conditions, the effect of an electric field on ice nucleation is not yet completely understood; results reported in literature are even contradictory on some issues.

In the present study, an advanced experimental approach for the examination of ice nucleation in water droplets exposed to an electric field is described. It comprises a method for droplet ensemble preparation and an experimental setup, which allows observation of the droplet ensemble during its exposure to well-defined thermal and electric fields, which are both variable over a wide range. The entire approach aims at maximizing the accuracy and repeatability of the experiments in order to enable examination of even the most minor influences on ice nucleation. For that purpose, the boundary conditions the droplet sample is exposed to during the experiment are examined in particular detail using experimental and numerical methods. The methodological capabilities and accuracy have been demonstrated based on several ice nucleation experiments without an electric field, indicating almost perfect repeatability.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)223-238
JournalAtmospheric measurement techniques
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 12 Nov 2021
Externally publishedYes


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