Comparison of Approaches for Measuring the Mass Accommodation Coefficient for the Condensation of Water and Sensitivities to Uncertainties in Thermophysical Properties

Rachael E. H. Miles, Jonathan P. Reid*, Ilona Riipinen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)

47 Citations (Scopus)


We compare and contrast measurements of the mass accommodation coefficient of water on a water surface made using ensemble and single particle techniques under conditions of supersaturation and subsaturation, respectively. In particular, we consider measurements made using an expansion chamber, a continuous flow streamwise thermal gradient cloud condensation nuclei chamber, the Leipzig Aerosol Cloud Interaction Simulator, aerosol optical tweezers, and electrodynamic balances. Although this assessment is not intended to be comprehensive, these five techniques are complementary in their approach and give values that span the range from near 0.1 to 1.0 for the mass accommodation coefficient. We use the same semianalytical treatment to assess the sensitivities of the measurements made by the various techniques to thermophysical quantities (diffusion constants, thermal conductivities, saturation pressure of water, latent heat, and solution density) and experimental parameters (saturation value and temperature). This represents the first effort to assess and compare measurements made by different techniques to attempt to reduce the uncertainty in the value of the mass accommodation coefficient. Broadly, we show that the measurements are consistent within the uncertainties inherent to the thermophysical and experimental parameters and that the value of the mass accommodation coefficient should be considered to be larger than 0.5. Accurate control and measurement of the saturation ratio is shown to be critical for a successful investigation of the surface transport kinetics during condensation/evaporation. This invariably requires accurate knowledge of the partial pressure of water, the system temperature, the droplet curvature and the saturation pressure of water. Further, the importance of including and quantifying the transport of heat in interpreting droplet measurements is highlighted; the particular issues associated with interpreting measurements of condensation/evaporation rates with varying pressure are discussed, measurements that are important for resolving the relative importance of gas diffusional transport and surface kinetics.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)10810-10825
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Physical Chemistry A
Issue number44
Publication statusPublished - 8 Nov 2012




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