A Robust Computational Method for Coupled Liquid-liquid Phase Separation and Gas-particle Partitioning Predictions of Multicomponent Aerosols
Friday, 19 December 2014
Providing efficient and reliable model predictions for the partitioning of atmospheric aerosol components between different phases (gas, liquids, solids) is a challenging problem. The partitioning of water, various semivolatile organic components, inorganic acids, bases, and salts, depends simultaneously on the chemical properties and interaction effects among all constituents of a gas + aerosol system. The effects of hygroscopic particle growth on the water contents and physical states of potentially two or more liquid and/or solid aerosol phases in turn may significantly affect multiphase chemistry, the direct effect of aerosols on climate, and the ability of specific particles to act as cloud condensation or ice nuclei. Considering the presence of a liquid-liquid phase separation in aerosol particles, which typically leads to one phase being enriched in rather hydrophobic compounds and the other phase enriched in water and dissolved electrolytes, adds a high degree of complexity to the goal of predicting the gas-particle partitioning of all components. Coupled gas-particle partitioning and phase separation methods are required to correctly account for the phase behaviour of aerosols exposed to varying environmental conditions, such as changes to relative humidity. We present new theoretical insights and a substantially improved algorithm for the reliable prediction of gas-particle partitioning at thermodynamic equilibrium based on the Aerosol Inorganic-Organic Mixtures Functional groups Activity Coefficients (AIOMFAC) model. We introduce a new approach for the accurate prediction of the phase distribution of multiple inorganic ions between two liquid phases, constrained by charge balance, and the coupling of the liquid-liquid equilibrium model to a robust gas-particle partitioning algorithm. Such coupled models are useful for exploring the range of environmental conditions leading to complete or incomplete miscibility of aerosol constituents which will affect other particle properties, such as the viscosity of aerosol phases. The method has been applied successfully to the calculation of gas-liquid-liquid-solid equilibria used for the prediction of aerosol hygroscopicity (humidity cycles) in comparison to laboratory experiments on aerosol water uptake and phase behaviour.