Our institutes own flow tube is nothing more than a two meter long stainless steel part of tubing. But in contrary to a regular plumbing part, we are able to simulate atmospheric chemistry processes in it, like the CLOUD experiment at CERN does - only on a smaller scale. Therefore a mix of a carrier gas (eg. synthetic air) and several trace gases can be introduced into the flow reactor and the following reactions carefully monitored. All the highly influential parameters such as reaction time, humidity and trace gas concentrations can be dialed in via a elaborated gas flow system and adjusted to almost any experimental demands.
The scientific goal of this whole contraption is to further analyse the yet still not well understood new particle formation in the atmosphere. In pursue of said goals several experiments have already been succesfully conducted, as the analysis of the contribution of biogenic plant emissions (alpha pinenes) to nucleation (Helm et al., 2017) as well as the analysis of the resulting particle spectrum from biogenic particle formation in different humidities. To observe these chemical reactions a CI-APi-TOF, Differential Mobility Analyzer (DMA) and several particle counters can be connected to the flowreactor. The flow tube is our go-to instrument for researching atmosphere's chemical processes on a small scale and can be coupled with a wide range of instruments to study the occurring reactions in great detail. These are ideal conditions for a great number of interesting experiments and exciting discoveries.