Secondary Organic Aerosol and Brown Carbon Formation in the Sunlit Aqueous Phase: Aldehyde Photooxidation in the Presence of Ammonium Salts and Amines

Friday, 19 December 2014
David O De Haan, Melissa M Galloway, Kyle D Sharp and Natalie G Jiménez, University of San Diego, San Diego, CA, United States
The chemistry of water-soluble carbonyl compounds in clouds is now acknowledged as an important source of secondary organic aerosol. These reactive carbonyl compounds are oxidized to carboxylic acids and form oligomers by radical-radical reactions and by “dark reactions” with ammonium salts (AS) and/or amines. The latter class of reactions also produces light-absorbing brown carbon compounds, especially reactions involving methylglyoxal or glyoxal and amines. However, recent work has found that UV light fades the color of glyoxal + AS and methylgyloxal + AS reaction mixtures. We recently studied aldehyde-AS-amine reactions in sunlight and in control vessels at the same temperature to determine the effects of solar radiation on the aqueous-phase production of brown carbon. In sunlight, methylglyoxal reaction mixtures lost their initial color and failed to brown, indicating the photolytic loss of reactants and/or pre-brown intermediates. In many other reactions, brown products are lost to photolysis, reducing the overall browning of solutions exposed to sunlight. In other experiments, hydrogen peroxide was added to generate OH radicals by photolysis. In the presence of OH radicals, some carbonyl compound mixtures (e.g. those containing hydroxyacetone or glycolaldehyde) browned more rapidly when exposed to sunlight. This indicates the existence of uncharacterized photooxidative browning pathways involving aqueous-phase OH radicals, carbonyls, ammonium salts, and/or amine compounds.