Articles | Volume 11, issue 15
Research article
01 Aug 2011
Research article |  | 01 Aug 2011

The kinetics and mechanism of an aqueous phase isoprene reaction with hydroxyl radical

D. Huang, X. Zhang, Z. M. Chen, Y. Zhao, and X. L. Shen

Abstract. Aqueous phase chemical processes of organic compounds in the atmosphere have received increasing attention, partly due to their potential contribution to the formation of secondary organic aerosol (SOA). Here, we analyzed the aqueous OH-initiated oxidation of isoprene and its reaction products including carbonyl compounds and organic acids, regarding the acidity and temperature as in-cloudy conditions. We also performed a laboratory simulation to improve our understanding of the kinetics and mechanisms for the products of aqueous isoprene oxidation that are significant precursors of SOA; these included methacrolein (MACR), methyl vinyl ketone (MVK), methyl glyoxal (MG), and glyoxal (GL). We used a novel chemical titration method to monitor the concentration of isoprene in the aqueous phase. We used a box model to interpret the mechanistic differences between aqueous and gas phase OH radical-initiated isoprene oxidations. Our results were the first demonstration of the rate constant for the reaction between isoprene and OH radical in water, 1.2 ± 0.4) × 1010 M−1 s−1 at 283 K. Molar yields were determined based on consumed isoprene. Of note, the ratio of the yields of MVK (24.1 ± 0.8 %) to MACR (10.9 ± 1.1%) in the aqueous phase isoprene oxidation was approximately double that observed for the corresponding gas phase reaction. We hypothesized that this might be explained by a water-induced enhancement in the self-reaction of a hydroxy isoprene peroxyl radical (HOCH2C(CH3)(O2)CH = CH2) produced in the aqueous reaction. The observed yields for MG and GL were 11.4 ± 0.3 % and 3.8 ± 0.1 %, respectively. Model simulations indicated that several potential pathways may contribute to the formation of MG and GL. Finally, oxalic acid increased steadily throughout the course of the study, even after isoprene was consumed completely. The observed yield of oxalic acid was 26.2 ± 0.8 % at 6 h. The observed carbon balance accounted for ~50 % of the consumed isoprene. The presence of high-molecular-weight compounds may have accounted for a large portion of the missing carbons, but they were not quantified in this study. In summary, our work has provided experimental evidence that the availably abundant water could affect the distribution of oxygenated organic compounds produced in the oxidation of volatile organic compounds.

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