Journal cover Journal topic
Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
Atmos. Chem. Phys., 13, 10721-10732, 2013
© Author(s) 2013. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.
Research article
05 Nov 2013
Modeling the surface tension of complex, reactive organic–inorganic mixtures
A. N. Schwier1,*, G. A. Viglione1, Z. Li1,**, and V. Faye McNeill1 1Department of Chemical Engineering, Columbia University, New York, NY 10027, USA
*now at: Laboratoire de Météorologie Physique CNRS, UMR6016, Observatoire de Physique du Globe de Clermont-Ferrand, Université Blaise Pascal, France
**now at: University of Florida, Department of Chemical Engineering, Florida, USA
Abstract. Atmospheric aerosols can contain thousands of organic compounds which impact aerosol surface tension, affecting aerosol properties such as heterogeneous reactivity, ice nucleation, and cloud droplet formation. We present new experimental data for the surface tension of complex, reactive organic–inorganic aqueous mixtures mimicking tropospheric aerosols. Each solution contained 2–6 organic compounds, including methylglyoxal, glyoxal, formaldehyde, acetaldehyde, oxalic acid, succinic acid, leucine, alanine, glycine, and serine, with and without ammonium sulfate. We test two semi-empirical surface tension models and find that most reactive, complex, aqueous organic mixtures which do not contain salt are well described by a weighted Szyszkowski–Langmuir (S-L) model which was first presented by Henning et al. (2005). Two approaches for modeling the effects of salt were tested: (1) the Tuckermann approach (an extension of the Henning model with an additional explicit salt term), and (2) a new implicit method proposed here which employs experimental surface tension data obtained for each organic species in the presence of salt used with the Henning model. We recommend the use of method (2) for surface tension modeling of aerosol systems because the Henning model (using data obtained from organic–inorganic systems) and Tuckermann approach provide similar modeling results and goodness-of-fit (χ2) values, yet the Henning model is a simpler and more physical approach to modeling the effects of salt, requiring less empirically determined parameters.

Citation: Schwier, A. N., Viglione, G. A., Li, Z., and Faye McNeill, V.: Modeling the surface tension of complex, reactive organic–inorganic mixtures, Atmos. Chem. Phys., 13, 10721-10732,, 2013.
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