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Atmospheric Measurement Techniques An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

  30 Jul 2020

30 Jul 2020

Review status
A revised version of this preprint is currently under review for the journal AMT.

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

Jens-Michael Löwe1,, Markus Schremb2,, Volker Hinrichsen1, and Cameron Tropea2 Jens-Michael Löwe et al.
  • 1High-Voltage Laboratories, Technical University of Darmstadt, Darmstadt, 64283, Germany
  • 2Institute of Fluid Mechanics and Aerodynamics, Technical University of Darmstadt, Darmstadt, 64287, Germany
  • These authors contributed equally to this work

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 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 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.

Jens-Michael Löwe et al.

Interactive discussion

Status: final response (author comments only)
Status: final response (author comments only)
AC: Author comment | RC: Referee comment | SC: Short comment | EC: Editor comment

Jens-Michael Löwe et al.

Video supplement

Oscillating drop surrounded by air Jens-Michael Löwe

Oscillating drop surrounded by oil Jens-Michael Löwe

Jens-Michael Löwe et al.


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Latest update: 29 Oct 2020
Publications Copernicus
Short summary
Icing is a severe problem in many technical applications like aviation or high-voltage components for power transmission and distribution. The presented experimental setup enables the accurate investigation of the freezing of water droplets under the impact of electric fields. All boundary conditions are well-controlled and investigated in detail. Results obtained with the setup might improve the understanding of the freezing process of water droplets under the impact of high electric fields.
Icing is a severe problem in many technical applications like aviation or high-voltage...