Acoustic separation of submicron solid particles in air

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The use of ultrasound to continuously separate submicron particles suspended in air is investigated in a rectangular channel with adjustable height. An electrostatic transducer is used to generate a standing wave in the 50–80 kHz frequency range and the particles experience forces within the acoustic field causing them to concentrate at the pressure nodes. To assess the effect of several key design parameters on the separation efficiency, a simple method based on light scattering is implemented to provide information on the particle concentrations as a function of position in the channel. The images acquired are processed to yield a separation efficiency metric that is used to evaluate the effect of acoustic, flow and geometrical parameters. The results show that, in qualitative agreement with theoretical models, the maximum separation efficiency increases with the pressure amplitude of the sound wave. The separation efficiency is also linearly proportional to the standing wave frequency, when it is varied between 50–80 kHz. On the other hand, the effect of the average fluid velocity is less pronounced than expected, suggesting that in our channel separation is not limited by the interaction length between the acoustic field and the suspended particles. The effect of the parallelism of the reflector relative to the transducer is also investigated.

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