Articles | Volume 14, issue 20
Research article
23 Oct 2014
Research article |  | 23 Oct 2014

Hygroscopicity of organic compounds from biomass burning and their influence on the water uptake of mixed organic ammonium sulfate aerosols

T. Lei, A. Zuend, W. G. Wang, Y. H. Zhang, and M. F. Ge

Abstract. Hygroscopic behavior of organic compounds, including levoglucosan, 4-hydroxybenzoic acid, and humic acid, as well as their effects on the hygroscopic properties of ammonium sulfate (AS) in internally mixed particles are studied by a hygroscopicity tandem differential mobility analyzer (HTDMA). The organic compounds used represent pyrolysis products of wood that are emitted from biomass burning sources. It is found that humic acid aerosol particles only slightly take up water, starting at RH (relative humidity) above ~70%. This is contrasted by the continuous water absorption of levoglucosan aerosol particles in the range 5–90% RH. However, no hygroscopic growth is observed for 4-hydroxybenzoic acid aerosol particles. Predicted water uptake using the ideal solution theory, the AIOMFAC model and the E-AIM (with UNIFAC) model are consistent with measured hygroscopic growth factors of levoglucosan. However, the use of these models without consideration of crystalline organic phases is not appropriate to describe the hygroscopicity of organics that do not exhibit continuous water uptake, such as 4-hydroxybenzoic acid and humic acid. Mixed aerosol particles consisting of ammonium sulfate and levoglucosan, 4-hydroxybenzoic acid, or humic acid with different organic mass fractions, take up a reduced amount of water above 80% RH (above AS deliquescence) relative to pure ammonium sulfate aerosol particles of the same mass. Hygroscopic growth of mixtures of ammonium sulfate and levoglucosan with different organic mass fractions agree well with the predictions of the thermodynamic models. Use of the Zdanovskii–Stokes–Robinson (ZSR) relation and AIOMFAC model lead to good agreement with measured growth factors of mixtures of ammonium sulfate with 4-hydroxybenzoic acid assuming an insoluble organic phase. Deviations of model predictions from the HTDMA measurement are mainly due to the occurrence of a microscopical solid phase restructuring at increased humidity (morphology effects), which are not considered in the models. Hygroscopic growth factors of mixed particles containing humic acid are well reproduced by the ZSR relation. Lastly, the organic surrogate compounds represent a selection of some of the most abundant pyrolysis products of biomass burning. The hygroscopic growths of mixtures of the organic surrogate compounds with ammonium sulfate with increasing organics mass fraction representing ambient conditions from the wet to the dry seasonal period in the Amazon basin, exhibit significant water uptake prior to the deliquescence of ammonium sulfate. The measured water absorptions of mixtures of several organic surrogate compounds (including levoglucosan) with ammonium sulfate are close to those of binary mixtures of levoglucosan with ammonium sulfate, indicating that levoglucosan constitutes a major contribution to the aerosol water uptake prior to (and beyond) the deliquescence of ammonium sulfate. Hence, certain hygroscopic organic surrogate compounds can substantially affect the deliquescence point of ammonium sulfate and overall particle water uptake.

Final-revised paper