This paper describes an experimental investigation of the behavior of water droplets in axial acoustic fields. It was motivated by the increasing interest in the use of pulsations to improve the performance of energy intensive, industrial processes. The presence of an acoustic field is believed to enhance heat and mass transfer to and from the droplets, probably because of the relative motion between the droplets and the gas phase. This relative motion is characterized by the ratio of the amplitude of the oscillatory droplet velocity to that of the acoustic velocity (entrainment factor), and by the phase between the droplet and gas phase oscillations. An experimental set-up was developed to investigate the effect of acoustic oscillations on the motion of individual droplets. In these experiments a droplet produced by a piezo-ceramic droplet generator is allowed to fall through a transparent test section in which an acoustic field has been set up using a pair of acoustic drivers. Images of the droplets in the test section acquired at consecutive instants using a high speed, intensified imaging system were used to determine the time dependent droplet trajectory and velocity. The acoustic velocity was calculated from measured acoustic pressure distributions. The entrainment factor and the phase difference were then determined from these data. The results show how the entrainment factor decreases and the phase difference increases with increasing droplet diameter and frequency, indicating that larger diameters and higher frequencies reduce the “ability” of the droplets to follow the gas phase oscillations. The measured data are in excellent agreement with the prediction of the Hjelmfelt and Mockros model. Both theoretical predictions and measured data were correlated with the Stokes number, which accounts for the effects of droplet diameter and frequency. It was also shown that acoustic oscillations decrease the mean terminal velocity of the droplets.

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