Journal cover Journal topic
Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
Atmos. Chem. Phys., 17, 2297-2310, 2017
http://www.atmos-chem-phys.net/17/2297/2017/
doi:10.5194/acp-17-2297-2017
© Author(s) 2017. This work is distributed
under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.
Research article
14 Feb 2017
Constraining uncertainties in particle-wall deposition correction during SOA formation in chamber experiments
Theodora Nah1, Renee C. McVay2, Jeffrey R. Pierce3, John H. Seinfeld2,4, and Nga L. Ng1,5 1School of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, GA, USA
2Division of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, CA, USA
3Department of Atmospheric Science, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO, USA
4Division of Engineering and Applied Science, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, CA, USA
5School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, GA, USA
Abstract. 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 by 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.

Citation: Nah, T., McVay, R. C., Pierce, J. R., Seinfeld, J. H., and Ng, N. L.: Constraining uncertainties in particle-wall deposition correction during SOA formation in chamber experiments, Atmos. Chem. Phys., 17, 2297-2310, doi:10.5194/acp-17-2297-2017, 2017.
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We present a model framework that accounts for coagulation in chamber studies where high seed aerosol surface area concentrations are used. 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 are also assessed. We show that SOA mass yields calculated by the four methods can deviate significantly in studies where high seed aerosol surface area concentrations are used.
We present a model framework that accounts for coagulation in chamber studies where high seed...
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