As a researcher at the PC2A laboratory, I deal with low flows on a daily base. The PC2A laboratory (PhysicoChimie des Processus de Combustion et de l’Atmosphère) is a multidisciplinary public research unit (CNRS/University of Lille), whose activities concern the characterization of the atmosphere and combustion physico-chemistry. Physico-chemistry in general is chemistry that deals with the physicochemical properties of substances. Bronkhorst instruments play an essential role in our researches, for measuring and controlling these substances in various researches. In this blog I will provide an explanation of our research and why we need mass flow control.
Research activities of the PC2A laboratory
Research activities of the PC2A laboratory are related to energy and environment and are conducted by approximately sixty people divided into three research teams with their own disciplines:
1. Physical Chemistry of Combustion
Our first research team is working on the physico-chemistry of combustion. The initial goal of this research is to understand combustion chemistry, for instance how are formed pollutants such as Nitrogen Oxides ( NOx) and soot in flames. We develop detailed kinetic mechanisms of the oxidation and auto-ignition of substances, such as: biofuels, hydrogen, synthetic fuels, biomass or coal. All thanks to our large experimental platform containing flames, rapid compression machine and laser diagnostics techniques.
2. Physical Chemistry of Atmosphere
In the research team ‘Physical chemistry of the atmosphere’, we study chemical kinetics of reactions of atmospheric interest. The two main topics for us within this discipline are:
- Homogeneous and heterogeneous reactivity in the atmosphere to understand the transformation of pollutant gases and particles (pollens, soot) in the atmosphere;
- Air quality with experimental characterization and numerical simulation of indoor and outdoor environments, pollution sources and impacts on health and climate.
For these experiments we develop laboratory instruments to characterize the reactivity of important species that are involved in the atmospheric chemistry processes, especially reactive species (radicals). To perform our experiments it is essential to know precisely the amount of gas that is offered to our laboratory reactors and then the concentration of the reactants in the chemical system. For this application we use Bronkhorst mass flow controllers, the EL-FLOW Select series. These instruments allow us to easily perform parametric studies because of their fast response and high repeatability. Moreover, consistency in flow is crucial for accurate measurement.
3. Nuclear Safety: Chemical kinetics, Combustion, Reactivity
Our third team is a collaborative team between the PC2A and the Pôle de Sûreté Nucléaire (PSN) of IRSN (Institut de Radioprotection et de Sûreté Nucléaire), working on issues in relation to thermodynamic and chemical reactivity of fission products. The main objective of this research is to validate the estimations of radio-contaminant products emissions in case of nuclear accident by modeling development and experimental studies.
Mass flow controllers for physico-chemistry
The PC2A laboratory uses multiple mass flow controllers of Bronkhorst. And this is not only for their specifications like a fast response and high repeatability. Also because of the easy operation of these mass flow controllers with the Labview software these instruments are ready to hand. The possibility to export data and moreover the flexibility with switching between different flow controllers, make Bronkhorst a perfect match for us. The flow instruments we use in the lab are the thermal mass flow controllers (EL-FLOW Select series) and the flow controllers with a low pressure drop ( LOW-dP-FLOW instruments).
To learn more about the LOW-dP-FLOW, please consult the product page.