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  1. The effect of vapor-wall deposition on secondary organic aerosol (SOA) formation has gained significant attention; however, uncertainties in experimentally derived SOA mass yields due to uncertainties in particle-wall deposition remain. Different approaches have been used to correct for particle-wall deposition in SOA formation studies, each having its own set of assumptions in determining the particle-wall loss rate. In volatile and intermediate-volatility organic compound (VOC and IVOC) systems in which SOA formation is governed by kinetically limited growth, the effect of vapor-wall deposition on SOA mass yields can be constrained by using high surface area concentrations of seed aerosol to promote the condensation of SOA-forming vapors onto seed aerosol instead of the chamber walls. However, under such high seed aerosol levels, the presence of significant coagulation may complicate the particle-wall deposition correction. Here, we present a model framework that accounts for coagulation in chamber studies in which high seed aerosol surface area concentrations are used. For the α-pinene ozonolysis system, we find that after accounting for coagulation, SOA mass yields remain approximately constant when high seed aerosol surface area concentrations ( ≥  8000 µm2 cm−3) are used, consistent with our prior study (Nah et al., 2016) showing that α-pinene ozonolysis SOA formation is governed bymore »quasi-equilibrium growth. In addition, we systematically assess the uncertainties in the calculated SOA mass concentrations and yields between four different particle-wall loss correction methods over the series of α-pinene ozonolysis experiments. At low seed aerosol surface area concentrations (< 3000 µm2 cm−3), the SOA mass yields at peak SOA growth obtained from the particle-wall loss correction methods agree within 14 %. However, at high seed aerosol surface area concentrations ( ≥  8000 µm2 cm−3), the SOA mass yields at peak SOA growth obtained from different particle-wall loss correction methods can differ by as much as 58 %. These differences arise from assumptions made in the particle-wall loss correction regarding the first-order particle-wall loss rate. This study highlights the importance of accounting for particle-wall deposition accurately during SOA formation chamber experiments and assessing the uncertainties associated with the application of the particle-wall deposition correction method when comparing and using SOA mass yields measured in different studies.« less
  2. Flow tube reactors are widely employed to study gas-phase atmospheric chemistry and secondary organic aerosol (SOA) formation. The development of a new laminar-flow tube reactor, the Caltech Photooxidation Flow Tube (CPOT), intended for the study of gas-phase atmospheric chemistry and SOA formation, is reported here. The present work addresses the reactor design based on fluid dynamical characterization and the fundamental behavior of vapor molecules and particles in the reactor. The design of the inlet to the reactor, based on computational fluid dynamics (CFD) simulations, comprises a static mixer and a conical diffuser to facilitate development of a characteristic laminar flow profile. To assess the extent to which the actual performance adheres to the theoretical CFD model, residence time distribution (RTD) experiments are reported with vapor molecules (O3) and submicrometer ammonium sulfate particles. As confirmed by the CFD prediction, the presence of a slight deviation from strictly isothermal conditions leads to secondary flows in the reactor that produce deviations from the ideal parabolic laminar flow. The characterization experiments, in conjunction with theory, provide a basis for interpretation of atmospheric chemistry and SOA studies to follow. A 1-D photochemical model within an axially dispersed plug flow reactor (AD-PFR) framework is formulated tomore »evaluate the oxidation level in the reactor. The simulation indicates that the OH concentration is uniform along the reactor, and an OH exposure (OHexp) ranging from ∼ 109 to ∼ 1012 molecules cm−3 s can be achieved from photolysis of H2O2. A method to calculate OHexp with a consideration for the axial dispersion in the present photochemical system is developed.« less
  3. Hydroxyl radical (OH) oxidation of toluene produces ring-retaining products: cresol and benzaldehyde, and ring-opening products: bicyclic intermediate compounds and epoxides. Here, first- and later-generation OH oxidation products from cresol and benzaldehyde are identified in laboratory chamber experiments. For benzaldehyde, first-generation ring-retaining products are identified, but later-generation products are not detected. For cresol, low-volatility (saturation mass concentration, C* ∼ 3.5  ×  104 − 7.7  ×  10−3 µg m−3), first- and later-generation ring-retaining products are identified. Subsequent OH addition to the aromatic ring of o-cresol leads to compounds such as hydroxy, dihydroxy, and trihydroxy methyl benzoquinones and dihydroxy, trihydroxy, tetrahydroxy, and pentahydroxy toluenes. These products are detected in the gas phase by chemical ionization mass spectrometry (CIMS) and in the particle phase using offline direct analysis in real-time mass spectrometry (DART-MS). Our data suggest that the yield of trihydroxy toluene from dihydroxy toluene is substantial. While an exact yield cannot be reported as authentic standards are unavailable, we find that a yield for trihydroxy toluene from dihydroxy toluene of ∼ 0.7 (equal to the reported yield of dihydroxy toluene from o-cresol; Olariu et al., 2002) is consistent with experimental results for o-cresol oxidation under low-NO conditions. These results suggest that even though the cresol pathway accounts for only ∼ 20 % of the oxidation products of toluene, it ismore »the source of a significant fraction (∼ 20–40 %) of toluene secondary organic aerosol (SOA) due to the formation of low-volatility products.« less
  4. 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 Caltechmore »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.« less
  5. Laboratory chambers, invaluable in atmospheric chemistry and aerosol formation studies, are subject to particle and vapor wall deposition, processes that need to be accounted for in order to accurately determine secondary organic aerosol (SOA) mass yields. Although particle wall deposition is reasonably well understood and usually accounted for, vapor wall deposition is less so. The effects of vapor wall deposition on SOA mass yields in chamber experiments can be constrained experimentally by increasing the seed aerosol surface area to promote the preferential condensation of SOA-forming vapors onto seed aerosol. Here, we study the influence of seed aerosol surface area and oxidation rate on SOA formation in α-pinene ozonolysis. The observations are analyzed using a coupled vapor–particle dynamics model to interpret the roles of gas–particle partitioning (quasi-equilibrium vs. kinetically limited SOA growth) and α-pinene oxidation rate in influencing vapor wall deposition. We find that the SOA growth rate and mass yields are independent of seed surface area within the range of seed surface area concentrations used in this study. This behavior arises when the condensation of SOA-forming vapors is dominated by quasi-equilibrium growth. Faster α-pinene oxidation rates and higher SOA mass yields are observed at increasing O3 concentrations for the samemore »initial α-pinene concentration. When the α-pinene oxidation rate increases relative to vapor wall deposition, rapidly produced SOA-forming oxidation products condense more readily onto seed aerosol particles, resulting in higher SOA mass yields. Our results indicate that the extent to which vapor wall deposition affects SOA mass yields depends on the particular volatility organic compound system and can be mitigated through the use of excess oxidant concentrations.« less