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A two-dimensional numerical model has been applied to three thermal diffusion cloud chamber (TDCC) investigations of n-propanol in helium taken by two different research groups to provide a quantitative example of how the results in these chambers can be affected by buoyant convection. In the first set of TDCC data, corrections for buoyancy resolve an apparent discontinuity in critical supersaturation data and also yield nucleation rate data that tend to agree better with higher rate, expansion-based studies at the same temperature. In the second TDCC study, the nucleation of propanol was studied over an extended pressure range. When the model was applied to these data, the possible variation in supersaturation values due to convection induced by conditions at the chamber sidewall was found to be comparable in magnitude to the experimentally observed range and may be responsible for some of this observed pressure dependence. In the third TDCC study, the combination of an error in a transport property and buoyant convection appear responsible for a perceived pressure effect in the experimental data. After correcting for this transport property and for buoyancy, the results at higher temperatures agree quite closely with the predictions of classical nucleation theory.


Copyright 2010 American Institute of Physics

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The Journal of chemical physics

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Ferguson, F. T., Heist, R. H., & Nuth, J. A. (2010). The influence of buoyant convection on the nucleation of n-propanol in thermal diffusion cloud chambers. The Journal of chemical physics, 132(20), 204510. doi:10.1063/1.3429618.



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