Articles | Volume 10, issue 24
Atmos. Chem. Phys., 10, 12149–12160, 2010

Special issue: European Integrated Project on Aerosol-Cloud-Climate and Air...

Atmos. Chem. Phys., 10, 12149–12160, 2010

Research article 21 Dec 2010

Research article | 21 Dec 2010

Measurement of the ambient organic aerosol volatility distribution: application during the Finokalia Aerosol Measurement Experiment (FAME-2008)

B. H. Lee1, E. Kostenidou2,3, L. Hildebrandt1, I. Riipinen1,4, G. J. Engelhart1, C. Mohr5, P. F. DeCarlo5, N. Mihalopoulos6, A. S. H. Prevot5, U. Baltensperger5, and S. N. Pandis1,2,3 B. H. Lee et al.
  • 1Department of Chemical Engineering, Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, PA, USA
  • 2Department of Chemical Engineering, University of Patras, Patra, Greece
  • 3Institute of Chemical Engineering and High Temperature Chemical Processes, ICE-HT, Patra, Greece
  • 4Department of Physics, University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland
  • 5Paul Scherrer Institute, Laboratory of Atmospheric Chemistry, 5232 Villigen, Switzerland
  • 6University of Crete, Department of Chemistry, Heraklion, Greece

Abstract. A variable residence time thermodenuder (TD) was combined with an Aerodyne Aerosol Mass Spectrometer (AMS) and a Scanning Mobility Particle Sizer (SMPS) to measure the volatility distribution of aged organic aerosol in the Eastern Mediterranean during the Finokalia Aerosol Measurement Experiment in May of 2008 (FAME-2008). A new method for the quantification of the organic aerosol volatility distribution was developed combining measurements of all three instruments together with an aerosol dynamics model.

Challenges in the interpretation of ambient thermodenuder-AMS measurements include the potential resistances to mass transfer during particle evaporation, the effects of particle size on the evaporated mass fraction, the changes in the AMS collection efficiency and particle density as the particles evaporate partially in the TD, and finally potential losses inside the TD. Our proposed measurement and data analysis method accounts for all of these problems combining the AMS and SMPS measurements.

The AMS collection efficiency of the aerosol that passed through the TD was found to be approximately 10% lower than the collection efficiency of the aerosol that passed through the bypass. The organic aerosol measured at Finokalia is approximately 2 or more orders of magnitude less volatile than fresh laboratory-generated monoterpene (α-pinene, β-pinene and limonene under low NOx conditions) secondary organic aerosol. This low volatility is consistent with its highly oxygenated AMS mass spectrum. The results are found to be highly sensitive to the mass accommodation coefficient of the evaporating species. This analysis is based on the assumption that there were no significant reactions taking place inside the thermodenuder.

Final-revised paper