The effect of varying levels of surfactant on the reactive uptake of N2O5 to aqueous aerosol
1Department of Atmospheric Sciences, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington, 98195, USA
2Department of Chemistry, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington, 98195, USA
Abstract. Recent observations have detected surface active organics in atmospheric aerosols. We have studied the reaction of N2O5 on aqueous natural seawater and NaCl aerosols as a function of sodium dodecyl sulfate (SDS) concentration to test the effect of varying levels of surfactant on gas-aerosol reaction rates. SDS was chosen as a proxy for naturally occurring long chain monocarboxylic acid molecules, such as palmitic or stearic acid, because of its solubility in water and well-characterized surface properties. Experiments were performed using a newly constructed aerosol flow tube coupled to a chemical ionization mass spectrometer for monitoring the gas phase, and a differential mobility analyzer/condensation particle counter for determining aerosol surface area. We find that the presence of ~3.5wt% SDS in the aerosol, which corresponds to a monolayer surface coverage of ~2×1014 molecules cm-2, suppresses the N2O5 reaction probability, γN2O5, by approximately a factor of ten, independent of relative humidity. Consistent with this observation is a similar reduction in the rate of ClNO2 product generation measured simultaneously. However, the product yield remains nearly constant under all conditions. The degree of suppression is strongly dependent on SDS content in the aerosol, with no discernable effect at 0.1wt% SDS, but significant suppression at what we predict to be submonolayer coverages with 0.3–0.6wt% SDS on NaCl and natural seawater aerosols, respectively.
Citation: McNeill, V. F., Patterson, J., Wolfe, G. M., and Thornton, J. A.: The effect of varying levels of surfactant on the reactive uptake of N2O5 to aqueous aerosol, Atmos. Chem. Phys., 6, 1635-1644, doi:10.5194/acp-6-1635-2006, 2006.