skip to main content

Title: Efficient alkane oxidation under combustion engine and atmospheric conditions
Abstract Oxidation chemistry controls both combustion processes and the atmospheric transformation of volatile emissions. In combustion engines, radical species undergo isomerization reactions that allow fast addition of O 2 . This chain reaction, termed autoxidation, is enabled by high engine temperatures, but has recently been also identified as an important source for highly oxygenated species in the atmosphere, forming organic aerosol. Conventional knowledge suggests that atmospheric autoxidation requires suitable structural features, like double bonds or oxygen-containing moieties, in the precursors. With neither of these functionalities, alkanes, the primary fuel type in combustion engines and an important class of urban trace gases, are thought to have minor susceptibility to extensive autoxidation. Here, utilizing state-of-the-art mass spectrometry, measuring both radicals and oxidation products, we show that alkanes undergo autoxidation much more efficiently than previously thought, both under atmospheric and combustion conditions. Even at high concentrations of NO X , which typically rapidly terminates autoxidation in urban areas, the studied C 6 –C 10 alkanes produce considerable amounts of highly oxygenated products that can contribute to urban organic aerosol. The results of this inter-disciplinary effort provide crucial information on oxidation processes in both combustion engines and the atmosphere, with direct implications for engine efficiency and urban air quality.  more » « less
Award ID(s):
Author(s) / Creator(s):
; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ;
Date Published:
Journal Name:
Communications Chemistry
Medium: X
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
More Like this
  1. Organic peroxy radicals (RO2) are key intermediates in the atmospheric degradation of organic matter and fuel combustion, but to date, few direct studies of specific RO2in complex reaction systems exist, leading to large gaps in our understanding of their fate. We show, using direct, speciated measurements of a suite of RO2and gas-phase dimers from O3-initiated oxidation of α-pinene, that ∼150 gaseous dimers (C16–20H24–34O4–13) are primarily formed through RO2cross-reactions, with a typical rate constant of 0.75–2 × 10−12cm3molecule−1s−1and a lower-limit dimer formation branching ratio of 4%. These findings imply a gaseous dimer yield that varies strongly with nitric oxide (NO) concentrations, of at least 0.2–2.5% by mole (0.5–6.6% by mass) for conditions typical of forested regions with low to moderate anthropogenic influence (i.e., ≤50-parts per trillion NO). Given their very low volatility, the gaseous C16–20dimers provide a potentially important organic medium for initial particle formation, and alone can explain 5–60% of α-pinene secondary organic aerosol mass yields measured at atmospherically relevant particle mass loadings. The responses of RO2, dimers, and highly oxygenated multifunctional compounds (HOM) to reacted α-pinene concentration and NO imply that an average ∼20% of primary α-pinene RO2from OH reaction and 10% from ozonolysis autoxidize at 3–10 s−1and ≥1 s−1, respectively, confirming both oxidation pathways produce HOM efficiently, even at higher NO concentrations typical of urban areas. Thus, gas-phase dimer formation and RO2autoxidation are ubiquitous sources of low-volatility organic compounds capable of driving atmospheric particle formation and growth.

    more » « less
  2. null (Ed.)
    Abstract. Highly oxygenated organic molecules (HOMs) contributesubstantially to the formation and growth of atmospheric aerosol particles,which affect air quality, human health and Earth's climate. HOMs are formedby rapid, gas-phase autoxidation of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) suchas α-pinene, the most abundant monoterpene in the atmosphere. Due totheir abundance and low volatility, HOMs can play an important role innew-particle formation (NPF) and the early growth of atmospheric aerosols,even without any further assistance of other low-volatility compounds suchas sulfuric acid. Both the autoxidation reaction forming HOMs and theirNPF rates are expected to be strongly dependent ontemperature. However, experimental data on both effects are limited.Dedicated experiments were performed at the CLOUD (Cosmics Leaving OUtdoorDroplets) chamber at CERN to address this question. In this study, we showthat a decrease in temperature (from +25 to −50 ∘C) results ina reduced HOM yield and reduced oxidation state of the products, whereas theNPF rates (J1.7 nm) increase substantially.Measurements with two different chemical ionization mass spectrometers(using nitrate and protonated water as reagent ion, respectively) providethe molecular composition of the gaseous oxidation products, and atwo-dimensional volatility basis set (2D VBS) model provides their volatilitydistribution. The HOM yield decreases with temperature from 6.2 % at 25 ∘C to 0.7 % at −50 ∘C. However, there is a strongreduction of the saturation vapor pressure of each oxidation state as thetemperature is reduced. Overall, the reduction in volatility withtemperature leads to an increase in the nucleation rates by up to 3orders of magnitude at −50 ∘C compared with 25 ∘C. Inaddition, the enhancement of the nucleation rates by ions decreases withdecreasing temperature, since the neutral molecular clusters have increasedstability against evaporation. The resulting data quantify how the interplaybetween the temperature-dependent oxidation pathways and the associatedvapor pressures affect biogenic NPF at the molecularlevel. Our measurements, therefore, improve our understanding of purebiogenic NPF for a wide range of tropospherictemperatures and precursor concentrations. 
    more » « less
  3. The UNIfied Partitioning-Aerosol phase Reaction (UNIPAR) model was established on the Comprehensive Air quality Model with extensions (CAMx) to process Secondary Organic Aerosol (SOA) formation by capturing multiphase reactions of hydrocarbons (HCs) in regional scales. SOA growth was simulated using a wide range of anthropogenic HCs including ten aromatics and linear alkanes with different carbon-lengths. The atmospheric processes of biogenic HCs (isoprene, terpenes, and sesquiterpene) were simulated for the major oxidation paths (ozone, OH radicals, and nitrate radicals) to predict day and night SOA formation. The UNIPAR model streamlined the multiphase partitioning of the lumping species originating from semi-explicitly predicted gas products and their heterogeneous chemistry to form non-volatile oligomeric species in both organic aerosol and inorganic aqueous phase. The CAMx-UNIPAR model predicted SOA formation at four ground urban sites (San Jose, Sacramento, Fresno, and Bakersfield) in California, United States during wintertime 2018. Overall, the simulated mass concentrations of the total organic matter, consisting of primary OA (POA) and SOA, showed a good agreement with the observations. The simulated SOA mass in the urban areas of California was predominated by alkane and terpene. During the daytime, low-volatile products originating from the autoxidation of long-chain alkanes considerably contributed to the SOA mass. In contrast, a significant amount of nighttime SOA was produced by the reaction of terpene with ozone or nitrate radicals. The spatial distributions of anthropogenic SOA associated with aromatic and alkane HCs were noticeably affected by the southward wind direction owing to the relatively long lifetime of their atmospheric oxidation, whereas those of biogenic SOA were nearly insensitive to wind direction. During wintertime 2018, the impact of inorganic aerosol hygroscopicity on the total SOA budget was not evident because of the small contribution of aromatic and isoprene products that are hydrophilic and reactive in the inorganic aqueous phase. However, an increased isoprene SOA mass was predicted during the wet periods, although its contribution to the total SOA was little. 
    more » « less
  4. The daytime oxidation of biogenic hydrocarbons is attributed to both OH radicals and O3, while nighttime chemistry is dominated by the reaction with O3 and NO3 radicals. Here, the diurnal pattern of Secondary Organic Aerosol (SOA) originating from biogenic hydrocarbons was intensively evaluated under varying environmental conditions (temperature, humidity, sunlight intensity, NOx levels, and seed conditions) by using the UNIfied Partitioning Aerosol phase Reaction (UNIPAR) model, which comprises multiphase gas-particle partitioning and in-particle chemistry. The oxidized products of three different hydrocarbons (isoprene, α-pinene, and β-caryophyllene) were predicted by using near explicit gas mechanisms for four different oxidation paths (OH, O3, NO3, and O(3P)) during day and night. The gas mechanisms implemented the Master Chemical Mechanism (MCM v3.3.1), the reactions that formed low volatility products via peroxy radical (RO2) autoxidation, and self- and cross-reactions of nitrate-origin RO2. In the model, oxygenated products were then classified into volatility-reactivity base lumping species, which were dynamically constructed under varying NOx levels and aging scales. To increase feasibility, the UNIPAR model that equipped mathematical equations for stoichiometric coefficients and physicochemical parameters of lumping species was integrated with the SAPRC gas mechanism. The predictability of the UNIPAR model was demonstrated by simulating chamber-generated SOA data under varying environments day and night. Overall, the SOA simulation decoupled to each oxidation path indicated that the nighttime isoprene SOA formation was dominated by the NO3-driven oxidation, regardless of NOx levels. However, the oxidation path to produce the nighttime α-pinene SOA gradually transited from the NO3-initiated reaction to ozonolysis as NOx levels decreased. For daytime SOA formation, both isoprene and α-pinene were dominated by the OH-radical initiated oxidation. The contribution of the O(3P) path to all biogenic SOA formation was negligible in daytime. Sunlight during daytime promotes the decomposition of oxidized products via photolysis and thus, reduces SOA yields. Nighttime α-pinene SOA yields were significantly higher than daytime SOA yields, although the nighttime α-pinene SOA yields gradually decreased with decreasing NOx levels. For isoprene, nighttime chemistry yielded higher SOA mass than daytime at the higher NOx level (isoprene/NOx > 5 ppbC/ppb). The daytime isoprene oxidation at the low NOx level formed epoxy-diols that significantly contributed SOA formation via heterogeneous chemistry. For isoprene and α-pinene, daytime SOA yields gradually increased with decreasing NOx levels. The daytime SOA produced more highly oxidized multifunctional products and thus, it was generally more sensitive to the aqueous reactions than the nighttime SOA. β-Caryophyllene, which rapidly oxidized and produced SOA with high yields, showed a relatively small variation in SOA yields from changes in environmental conditions (i.e., NOx levels, seed conditions, and diurnal pattern), and its SOA formation was mainly attributed to ozonolysis day and night. To mimic the nighttime α-pinene SOA formation under the polluted urban atmosphere, α-pinene SOA formation was simulated in the presence of gasoline fuel. The simulation suggested the growth of α-pinene SOA in the presence of gasoline fuel gas by the enhancement of the ozonolysis path under the excess amount of ozone, which is typical in urban air. We concluded that the oxidation of the biogenic hydrocarbon with O3 or NO3 radicals is a source to produce a sizable amount of nocturnal SOA, despite of the low emission at night. 
    more » « less
  5. Chemical mechanisms play an important role in simulating the atmospheric chemistry of volatile organic compound oxidation. Comparison of mechanism simulations with laboratory chamber data tests our level of understanding of the prevailing chemistry as well as the dynamic processes occurring in the chamber itself. α-Pinene photooxidation is a well-studied system experimentally, for which detailed chemical mechanisms have been formulated. Here, we present the results of simulating low-NO α-pinene photooxidation experiments conducted in the Caltech chamber with the Generator for Explicit Chemistry and Kinetics of Organics in the Atmosphere (GECKO-A) under varying concentrations of seed particles and OH levels. Unexpectedly, experiments conducted at low and high OH levels yield the same secondary organic aerosol (SOA) growth, whereas GECKO-A predicts greater SOA growth under high OH levels. SOA formation in the chamber is a result of a competition among the rates of gas-phase oxidation to low-volatility products, wall deposition of these products, and condensation into the aerosol phase. Various processes – such as photolysis of condensed-phase products, particle-phase dimerization, and peroxy radical autoxidation – are explored to rationalize the observations. In order to explain the observed similar SOA growth at different OH levels, we conclude that vapor wall loss in the Caltech chamber is likely of order 10−5 s−1, consistent with previous experimental measurements in that chamber. We find that GECKO-A tends to overpredict the contribution to SOA of later-generation oxidation products under high-OH conditions. Moreover, we propose that autoxidation may alternatively resolve some or all of the measurement–model discrepancy, but this hypothesis cannot be confirmed until more explicit mechanisms are established for α-pinene autoxidation. The key role of the interplay among oxidation rate, product volatility, and vapor–wall deposition in chamber experiments is illustrated. 
    more » « less