Thermodynamic and kinetic behavior of glycerol aerosol

Glycerol and propylene glycol mixtures are common carrier solutions in electronic cigarettes. Aerosols produced from these mixtures will evaporate quickly in a dry environment due to their high volatility. In a humid environment, such as the lungs, the kinetics of evaporation and hygroscopic growth determine the evolution of aerosol plume glycerol. Here, we apply a temperature and relative humidity-controlled hygroscopicity/volatility tandem differential mobility analyzer system to study the growth and evaporation kinetics of glycerol aerosol over a wide range of temperature, relative humidity, and residence times. Results show that at dry conditions glycerol aerosols evaporate within seconds at temperatures warmer than 20°C and that the accommodation coefficient of glycerol vapor on dry glycerol particles is 0.8. Under humidified conditions, the mutual depression of vapor pressures of the aqueous glycerol/water solution slows the glycerol evaporation rate consistent with thermodynamic and kinetic model predictions. Model calculations show that water vapor aided condensation of glycerol can occur at high relative humidity for glycerol vapor concentrations that result in glycerol particle evaporation under dry conditions. The combined results will help with constraining computational modules that model the evolution of glycerol-containing aerosols along a prescribed thermodynamic trajectory.

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