Air puff systems are at once trivially straightforward and dauntingly complex. On the one hand, they are little but a pressure source, valve, and tube connected together. On the other, the air passing through them is a compressible medium, expanding approximately adiabatically while travelling at high velocity through a compliant tube, and exiting as a turbulent jet with velocity peak and profile varying non-linearly in its near-field. This complexity puts precise mathematical prediction of puff properties out of reach of most labs. There are, however, a number of phenomena fundamental to air puff system design that are worth understanding to a first order of approximation, or at least qualitatively. Using a simplified, “electronic–hydraulic analogy” model, this paper discusses these phenomena in just enough depth for the reader to confidently specify parts for an air puff delivery system, to measure its key parameters, and/or to describe a given system unambiguously in publications, thus maximizing reproducibility.
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