New Particle Formation and Growth from Methanesulfonic Acid, Amines, Water, and Organics
Abstract:Particles in the atmosphere can influence visibility, negatively impact human health, and affect climate. The largest uncertainty in determining global radiative forcing is attributed to atmospheric aerosols. While new particle formation in many locations is correlated with sulfuric acid in air, neither the gas-phase binary nucleation of H2SO4-H2O nor the gas-phase ternary nucleation of H2SO4-NH3-H2O alone can fully explain observations. An additional potential particle source, based on previous studies in this laboratory, is methanesulfonic acid (MSA) with amines and water vapor. However, organics are ubiquitous in the atmosphere, with secondary organic aerosol (SOA) being a major component of particles. Organics could be involved in the initial stages of particle formation by enhancing or inhibiting nucleation from sulfuric acid or MSA, in addition to contributing to their growth to form SOA.
Experiments to measure the effects of a series of organics of varying structure on particle formation and growth from MSA, amines, and water were performed in a custom-built small volume aerosol flow tube reactor. Analytical instruments and techniques include a scanning mobility particle sizer to measure particle size distributions, sampling onto a weak cation exchange resin with analysis by ion chromatography to measure amine concentrations, and filter collection and analysis by ultra-high performance liquid chromatography tandem mass spectrometry to measure MSA concentrations. Organics were measured by atmospheric pressure chemical ionization tandem mass spectrometry. The impact of these organics on the initial particle formation as well as growth will be reported. The outcome is an improved understanding of fundamental chemistry of nucleation and growth to ultimately be incorporated into climate models to better predict how particles affect the global climate budget.