Sheng-Hsiu Huang1, Yu-Mei Kuo This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.2, Chih-Wei Lin1, Po-Chin Chen1, Chih-Chieh Chen1

1 Institute of Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences, College of Public Health, National Taiwan University, Taipei 10055, Taiwan
2 Department of Occupational Safety and Health, Chung Hwa University of Medical Technology, Tainan 71703, Taiwan


Received: October 29, 2019
Revised: April 17, 2020
Accepted: June 15, 2020

 Copyright The Author(s). This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY 4.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are cited.

Download Citation: ||  

  • Download: PDF

Cite this article:

Huang, S.H., Kuo, Y.M., Lin, C.W., Chen, P.C. and Chen, C.C. (2020). Characterization of Aerosol Emission from Single-film Rupture in a Tube. Aerosol Air Qual. Res. 20: 2239–2248.


  • The curvature of the film moving in the tube affects the aerosol count.
  • There exists an optimal rising velocity which generates highest aerosol count.
  • The larger tube diameter, the larger and more film-mediated particles.
  • The higher surface tension, the fewer and smaller the particles.


The generation of aerosols during “silent” tidal breathing via the bronchiole fluid film burst (BFFB) mechanism, which involves the rupturing of mucus meniscus or film in terminal bronchioles, has been described in recent studies. To replicate the BFFB mechanism and identify the characteristics of aerosol generation during normal breathing, this study set up a single-film generation system employing tubes ranging from 0.7 to 2.94 cm in diameter that simulated the bronchioles. A liquid film of artificial mucus or soap solution was applied on the bottom of each tube and moved upward by filtered carrier air, which eventually led to the rupturing of the film. The resultant airborne particles (> 7 nm) were then counted with a condensation particle counter, and the number size distributions (0.6–20 µm) were measured with an Aerodynamic Particle Sizer. The experimental results show that the film’s rising velocity, rise distance and surface tension in addition to the tube diameter all affected the total particle count and the size distribution. The total particle count increased with the rising velocity until the latter reached 3 cm s–1 and then decreased as the velocity continued growing—a phenomenon that was mainly due to the curvature of the film increasing with the velocity. Moreover, the larger the tube diameter, the higher the particle count. When a 0.9% NaCl solution was added to increase the surface tension of the film, the total particle count decreased as the surface tension increased, regardless of whether artificial mucus or soap solution was used. This approach to reducing the propagation of infectious diseases in healthcare facilities seems to merit further exploration.

Keywords: Bronchiole fluid film burst; Film aerosols; Rising velocity; Surface tension.


  1. Afeti, G.M. and Resch, F.J. (1990). Distribution of the liquid aerosol produced from bursting bubbles in sea and distilled water. Tellus B 42: 378–384. [Publisher Site]

  2. Almstrand, A.C., Bake, B., Ljungström, E., Larsson, P., Bredberg, A., Mirgorodskaya, E. and Olin, A.C. (2010). Effect of airway opening on production of exhaled particles. J. Appl. Physiol. 108: 584–588. [Publisher Site]

  3. Anwarul Hasan, M.D., Lange, C.F. and King, M.L. (2010). Effect of artificial mucus properties on the characteristics of airborne bioaerosol droplets generated during simulated coughing. J. Non-Newtonian Fluid Mech. 165: 1431–1441. [Publisher Site]

  4. Bergeron, V. (1997). Disjoining pressures and film stability of alkyl trimethyl ammonium bromide foam films. Langmuir 13: 3474–3482. [Publisher Site]

  5. Bernhard, W., Haagsman, H.P., Tschernig, T., Poets, C.F., Postle, A.D., van Eijk, M.E. and von der Hardt, H. (1997). Conductive airway surfactant: surface-tension function, biochemical composition, and possible alveolar origin. Am. J. Respir. Cell Mol. Biol. 17: 41–50. [Publisher Site]

  6. Bird, J.C., de Ruiter, R., Courbin, L. and Stone, H.A. (2010). Daughter bubble cascades produced by folding of ruptured thin films. Nature 465: 759. [Publisher Site]

  7. Blanchard, D.C. and Syzdek, L.D. (1988). Film drop production as a function of bubble size. J. Geophys. Res. 93: 3649–3654. [Publisher Site]

  8. Champougny, L., Miguet, J., Henaff, R., Restagno, F., Boulogne, F. and Rio, E. (2018). Influence of evaporation on soap film rupture. Langmuir 34: 3221–3227. [Publisher Site]

  9. Chao, C.Y.H., Wan, M.P., Morawska, L., Johnson, G.R., Ristovski, Z.D., Hargreaves, M., Mengersen, K., Corbett, S., Li, Y., Xie, X. and Katoshevski, D. (2009). Characterization of expiration air jets and droplet size distributions immediately at the mouth opening. J. Aerosol Sci. 40: 122–133. [Publisher Site]

  10. de Gennes, P.G. (2001). Some remarks on coalescence in emulsions or foams. Chem. Eng. Sci. 56: 5449–5450. [Publisher Site]

  11. Edwards, D.A., Man, J.C., Brand, P., Katstra, J.P., Sommerer, K., Stone, H.A., Nardell, E. and Scheuch, G. (2004). Inhaling to mitigate exhaled bioaerosols. PNAS 101: 17383–17388. [Publisher Site]

  12. Espinosa, F.F. and Kamm, R.D. (1999). Bolus dispersal through the lungs in surfactant replacement therapy. J. Appl. Physiol. 86: 391–410. [Publisher Site]

  13. Fabian, P., McDevitt, J.J., DeHaan, W.H., Fung, R.O.P., Cowling, B.J., Chan, K.H., Leung, G.M. and Milton, D.K. (2008). Influenza virus in human exhaled breath: an observational study. PLoS One 3: e2691. [Publisher Site]

  14. Fabian, P., Brain, J., Houseman, E.A., Gern, J. and Milton, D.K. (2011). Origin of exhaled breath particles from healthy and human rhinovirus-infected subjects. J. Aerosol Med. Pulm. D 24: 137–147. [Publisher Site]

  15. Gehr, P., Geiser, M., Hof, V.I., Schürch, S., Waber, U. and Baumann, M. (1993). Surfactant and inhaled particles in the conducting airways: Structural, stereological, and biophysical aspects. Microsc. Res. Tech. 26: 423–436. [Publisher Site]

  16. Halpern, D., Jensen, O.E. and Grotberg, J.B. (1998). A theoretical study of surfactant and liquid delivery into the lung. J. Appl. Physiol. 85: 333–352. [Publisher Site]

  17. Hinds, W.C. (1999). Aerosol technology: Preperties, behavior, and measurment of airborne particles, (second edition), Wiley Interscience, New York.

  18. Hohlfeld, J.M. (2002). The role of surfactant in asthma. Respir. Res. 3: 4. [Publisher Site]

  19. Holmgren, H., Ljungström, E., Almstrand, A.C., Bake, B. and Olin, A.C. (2010). Size distribution of exhaled particles in the range from 0.01 to 2.0 µm. J. Aerosol Sci. 41: 439–446. [Publisher Site]

  20. Hung, H.F., Kuo, Y.M., Chien, C.C. and Chen, C.C. (2010). Use of floating balls for reducing bacterial aerosol emissions from aeration in wastewater treatment processes. J. Hazard. Mater. 175: 866–871. [Publisher Site]

  21. Ke, W.R., Kuo, Y.M., Lin, C.W., Huang, S.H. and Chen, C.C. (2017). Characterization of aerosol emissions from single bubble bursting. J. Aerosol Sci. 109: 1–12. [Publisher Site]

  22. Kuo, Y.M. and Wang, C.S. (2002). Droplet fractionation of hexavalent chromium from bubbles bursting at liquid surfaces of chromic acid solutions. J. Aerosol Sci. 33: 297–306. [Publisher Site]

  23. Lhuissier, H. and Villermaux, E. (2009). Bursting bubbles. Phys. Fluids 21: 091111. [Publisher Site]

  24. Lhuissier, H. and Villermaux, E. (2012). Bursting bubble aerosols. ‎J. Fluid Mech. 696: 5–44. [Publisher Site]

  25. Modini, R.L., Russell, L.M., Deane, G.B. and Stokes, M.D. (2013). Effect of soluble surfactant on bubble persistence and bubble-produced aerosol particles. J. Geophys. Res. 118: 1388–1400. [Publisher Site]

  26. Morawska, L., Johnson, G.R., Ristovski, Z.D., Hargreaves, M., Mengersen, K., Corbett, S., Chao, C.Y.H., Li, Y. and Katoshevski, D. (2009). Size distribution and sites of origin of droplets expelled from the human respiratory tract during expiratory activities. J. Aerosol Sci. 40: 256–269. [Publisher Site]

  27. Oldham, M.J. and Moss, O.R. (2019). Pores of Kohn: forgotten alveolar structures and potential source of aerosols in exhaled breath. J. Breath Res. 13: 021003. [Publisher Site]

  28. Papinen, R.S. and Rosenthal, F.S. (1997). The size distribution of droplets in the exhaled breath of healthy human subjects. J. Aerosol Med. 10: 105–116. [Publisher Site]

  29. Pilacinski, W., Pan, M.J., Szewczyk, K.W., Lehtimäki, M. and Willeke, K. (1990). Aerosol release from aerated broths. Biotechnol. Bioeng. 36: 970–973. [Publisher Site]

  30. Resch, F.J., Darrozes, J.S. and Afeti, G.M. (1986). Marine liquid aerosol production from bursting of air bubbles. J. Geophys. Res. 91: 1019–1029. [Publisher Site]

  31. Resch, F. and Afeti, G. (1991). Film drop distributions from bubbles bursting in seawater. J. Geophys. Res. 96: 10681–10688. [Publisher Site]

  32. Resch, F. and Afeti, G. (1992). Submicron film drop production by bubbles in seawater. J. Geophys. Res. 97: 3679–3683. [Publisher Site]

  33. Rio, E. and Biance, A.L. (2014). Thermodynamic and mechanical timescales involved in foam film rupture and liquid foam coalescence. Chem. Phys. Chem. 15: 3692–3707. [Publisher Site]

  34. Russell, L.M. and Singh, E.G. (2006). Submicron salt particle production in bubble bursting. Aerosol Sci. Technol. 40: 664–671. [Publisher Site]

  35. Schwarz, K., Biller, H., Windt, H., Koch, W. and Hohlfeld, J.M. (2010). Characterization of exhaled particles from the healthy human lung—A systematic analysis in relation to pulmonary function variables. J. Aerosol Med. Pulm. D 23: 371–379. [Publisher Site]

  36. Spiel, D.E. (1998). On the births of film drops from bubbles bursting on seawater surfaces. J. Geophys. Res. 103: 24907–24918. [Publisher Site]

  37. Vrij, A. (1964). Light scattering by soap films. ‎J. Colloid Sci. 19: 1–27. [Publisher Site]

  38. Vrij, A. and Overbeek, J.T.G. (1968). Rupture of thin liquid films due to spontaneous fluctuations in thickness. J. Am. Chem. Soc. 90: 3074–3078. [Publisher Site]

  39. Yeh, H.C. and Schum, G.M. (1980). Models of human lung airways and their application to inhaled particle deposition. Bull. Math. Biol. 42: 461–480. [Publisher Site]

Aerosol Air Qual. Res. 20 :2239 -2248 .  

Don't forget to share this article 


Subscribe to our Newsletter 

Aerosol and Air Quality Research has published over 2,000 peer-reviewed articles. Enter your email address to receive latest updates and research articles to your inbox every second week.

Latest coronavirus research from Aerosol and Air Quality Research

2018 Impact Factor: 2.735

5-Year Impact Factor: 2.827

SCImago Journal & Country Rank