On the scalability of helium-filled soap bubbles for volumetric PIV

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The scalability of experiments using PIV relies upon several parameters, namely illumination power, camera sensor and primarily the tracers light scattering capability. Given their larger cross section, helium-filled soap bubbles (HFSB) allow measurements in air flows over a significantly large domain compared to traditional oil or fog droplets. Controlling their diameter translates into scalability of the experiment. This work presents a technique to extend the control of HFSB diameter by geometrical variations of the generator. The latter expands the more limited range allowed by varying the relative helium-air mass flow rates. A theoretical model predicts the bubble size and production rate, which is verified experimentally by high-speed shadow visualization. The overall range of HFSB produced in a stable (bubbling) regime varies from 0.16 to 2.7 mm. Imaging by light scattering of such tracers is also investigated, in view of controversies in the literature on whether diffraction or geometrical imaging dominate the imaging regime. The light scattered by scaled HFSB tracers is imaged with a high-speed camera orthogonal to the illumination. Both the total energy collected on the sensor for a single tracer, as well as its peak intensity, are found to preserve scaling with the square of the diameter at object magnification of 10–1 or below, typical of PIV experiments. For large-scale volumetric applications, it is shown that varying the bubble diameter allows increasing both the measurement domain as well as the working distance of the imagers at 10 m and beyond. A scaling rule is proposed for the latter.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages17
JournalExperiments in Fluids: experimental methods and their applications to fluid flow
Issue number23
Publication statusPublished - 2024


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