Articles | Volume 11, issue 10
Research article
20 May 2011
Research article |  | 20 May 2011

The effect of trimethylamine on atmospheric nucleation involving H2SO4

M. E. Erupe, A. A. Viggiano, and S.-H. Lee

Abstract. Field observations and quantum chemical calculations have shown that organic amine compounds may be important for new particle formation involving H2SO4. Here, we report laboratory observations that investigate the effect of trimethylamine (TMA) on H2SO4-H2O nucleation made under aerosol precursor concentrations typically found in the lower troposphere ([H2SO4] of 106−107 cm−3; [TMA] of 180–1350 pptv). The threshold [H2SO4] needed to produce the unity J was from 106−107 cm−3 and the slopes of Log J vs. Log [H2SO4] and Log J vs. Log [TMA] were 4–6 and 1, respectively, strikingly similar to the case of ammonia (NH3 ternary nucleation (Benson et al., 2011). At lower RH, however, enhancement in J due to TMA was up to an order of magnitude greater than that due to NH3. These findings imply that both amines and NH3 are important nucleation species, but under dry atmospheric conditions, amines may have stronger effects on H2SO4 nucleation than NH3. Aerosol models should therefore take into account inorganic and organic base compounds together to fully understand the widespread new particle formation events in the lower troposphere.

Final-revised paper