Gas-phase chemistry in Oxidation Flow Reactors for the study of secondary organic aerosols systematically examined by modeling
Tuesday, 16 December 2014
Oxidation Flow Reactors (OFRs) using OH produced from low-pressure Hg lamps at 254 nm (OFR254) or both 185 and 254 nm (OFR185) are commonly used in atmospheric chemistry and other fields. OFR254 requires addition of externally formed O3 since OH is formed mainly from O3 photolysis, while OFR185 does not since OH can also be formed from H2O photolysis. In this study we use a plug-flow kinetic model to investigate OFR properties under a very wide range of conditions applicable to both field and laboratory studies. We show that radical chemistry in OFRs can be characterized as a function of 3 main parameters: UV light intensity, H2O concentration, and total external OH reactivity (e.g. from VOCs, NOx, and SO2). In OFR185, OH exposure is more sensitive to external OH reactivity than in OFR254, because injected O3 in OFR254 greatly promotes the recycling of HO2 to OH, making external perturbations to the radical chemistry less significant. The uncertainties of modeled OH, O3, and H2O2 due to uncertain kinetic parameters are within 40% in most cases. Sensitivity analysis shows that most of the uncertainty is contributed by photolysis and reactions involving OH and HO2, e.g. 2HO2→H2O2+O2 and OH+O3→HO2+O2. Reactants of atmospheric interest are dominantly consumed by OH, except some biogenics that can have substantial contributions from O3. Other highly reactive species (UV photons, O(1D), and O(3P)) only contribute for some species under conditions low H2O concentration and/or high external OH reactivity, which can be avoided by experimental planning. OFR185 and OFR254 are comparable in terms of non-OH oxidants’ influence. In OFRs NO is fast oxidized. RO2 fate is similar to that in the atmosphere under low NO conditions. A comprehensive comparison of OFRs with typical environmental chamber studies with UV blacklights and with the atmosphere is also performed. OFRs’ key advantages are their short experimental time scales, portability to field sites, and generally good performance in terms of controllable and predicable radical chemistry.