Acoustic separation of submicron particles in gaseous flows
Abstract: The separation of submicron particles suspended in gaseous flows is a problem of great importance and is the subject of sustained research efforts. This is motivated by several challenges presented by modern science and technology requiring high separation efficiencies for submicron particles.Continuous acoustic particles separation is a novel technique based on the acoustophoresis phenomenon, in which a particle within an acoustic field is manipulated using acoustic forces on its surface. This technique has the potential to overcome some of the limitations of common techniques for the separation of submicron particles, as well as performing advanced tasks such as sorting particles according to their size or density.In this thesis, the separation of submicron solid particles suspended in air is investigated experimentally, with a focus on the effect of key design parameters (acoustic, flow, geometry) on the efficiency of the process. A simple method based on laser light scattering was also used to provide qualitative information on the particle number density as a function of position in the channel. This technique allowed to quickly investigate the effect of a wide range of parameters on the acoustic separation efficiency including the pressure amplitude, the frequency of the standing wave, the average flow velocity and the parallelism of the channel walls. The results demonstrate conclusively that acoustic manipulation is possible for submicron particles and that the acoustic force scales following the trends expected from theoretical models developed in the continuum regime. From the size of the particles used it however follows that the observed separation is the result of transition regime acoustophoresis, with a Knudsen number on the order of 0.2.
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