Articles | Volume 12, issue 2
Atmos. Chem. Phys., 12, 615–634, 2012
Atmos. Chem. Phys., 12, 615–634, 2012

Research article 16 Jan 2012

Research article | 16 Jan 2012

A two-dimensional volatility basis set – Part 2: Diagnostics of organic-aerosol evolution

N. M. Donahue1, J. H. Kroll2, S. N. Pandis3,1, and A. L. Robinson1 N. M. Donahue et al.
  • 1Carnegie Mellon University Center for Atmospheric Particle Studies, Pittsburgh, USA
  • 2MIT Departments of Civil and Environmental Engineering and Chemical Engineering, Cambridge, USA
  • 3Institute of Chemical Engineering and High Temperature Processes, FORTH, Patras, Greece

Abstract. We discuss the use of a two-dimensional volatility-oxidation space (2-D-VBS) to describe organic-aerosol chemical evolution. The space is built around two coordinates, volatility and the degree of oxidation, both of which can be constrained observationally or specified for known molecules. Earlier work presented the thermodynamics of organics forming the foundation of this 2-D-VBS, allowing us to define the average composition (C, H, and O) of organics, including organic aerosol (OA) based on volatility and oxidation state. Here we discuss how we can analyze experimental data, using the 2-D-VBS to gain fundamental insight into organic-aerosol chemistry. We first present a well-understood "traditional" secondary organic aerosol (SOA) system – SOA from α-pinene + ozone, and then turn to two examples of "non-traditional" SOA formation – SOA from wood smoke and dilute diesel-engine emissions. Finally, we discuss the broader implications of this analysis.

Final-revised paper