Collective behavior of bulk nanobubbles produced by alternating polarity electrolysis†
Nanobubbles in liquids are mysterious gaseous objects with exceptional stability. They promise a wide range of applications, but their production is not well controlled and localized. Alternating polarity electrolysis of water is a tool that can control the production of bulk nanobubbles in space and time without generating larger bubbles. Using the schlieren technique, the detailed three-dimensional structure of a dense cloud of nanobubbles above the electrodes is visualized. It is demonstrated that the thermal effects produce a different schlieren pattern and have different dynamics. A localized volume enriched with nanobubbles can be separated from the parent cloud and exists on its own. This volume demonstrates buoyancy, from which the concentration of nanobubbles is estimated as 2 × 1018 m−3. This concentration is smaller than that in the parent cloud. Dynamic light scattering shows that the average size of nanobubbles during the process is 60–80 nm. The bubbles are observed 15 minutes after switching off the electrical pulses but their size is shifted to larger values of about 250 nm. Thus, an efficient way to generate and control nanobubbles is proposed.