Experimental methodology and procedure for SAPPHIRE:a Semi-automatic APParatus for High-voltage Ice nucleation REsearch
Abstract. Ice nucleation is of great interest for various processes such as cloud formation in the scope of atmospheric research, and icing of airplanes, ships or structures. Ice nucleation research aims to improve the knowledge about the physical mechanisms and, therefore improve the safety and reliability of the applications affected by ice nucleation. Several influencing factors like liquid supercooling or contamination with nucleants, as well as external disturbances such as an electric
... d or surface defects affect ice nucleation. Especially for ice crystal formation in clouds and icing of high-voltage equipment, an external electric field may have a strong impact on ice nucleation. Although ice nucleation has been widely investigated for numerous conditions, the effect of an electric field on nucleation is not yet completely understood; results reported in literature are even contradictory. In the present study, an advanced experimental approach for the examination of ice nucleation in water droplets exposed to an electric field is demonstrated. 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 test nucleation experiments without an electric field, indicating almost perfect repeatability.