Articles | Volume 17, issue 21
Research article
08 Nov 2017
Research article |  | 08 Nov 2017

Kinetic modeling studies of SOA formation from α-pinene ozonolysis

Kathrin Gatzsche, Yoshiteru Iinuma, Andreas Tilgner, Anke Mutzel, Torsten Berndt, and Ralf Wolke

Abstract. This paper describes the implementation of a kinetic gas-particle partitioning approach used for the simulation of secondary organic aerosol (SOA) formation within the SPectral Aerosol Cloud Chemistry Interaction Model (SPACCIM). The kinetic partitioning considers the diffusion of organic compounds into aerosol particles and the subsequent chemical reactions in the particle phase. The basic kinetic partitioning approach is modified by the implementation of chemical backward reaction of the solute within the particle phase as well as a composition-dependent particle-phase bulk diffusion coefficient. The adapted gas-phase chemistry mechanism for α-pinene oxidation has been updated due to the recent findings related to the formation of highly oxidized multifunctional organic compounds (HOMs). Experimental results from a LEAK (Leipziger Aerosolkammer) chamber study for α-pinene ozonolysis were compared with the model results describing this reaction system.

The performed model studies reveal that the particle-phase bulk diffusion coefficient and the particle-phase reactivity are key parameters for SOA formation. Using the same particle-phase reactivity for both cases, we find that liquid particles with higher particle-phase bulk diffusion coefficients have 310 times more organic material formed in the particle phase compared to higher viscous semi-solid particles with lower particle-phase bulk diffusion coefficients. The model results demonstrate that, even with a moderate particle-phase reactivity, about 61 % of the modeled organic mass consists of reaction products that are formed in the liquid particles. This finding emphasizes the potential role of SOA processing. Moreover, the initial organic aerosol mass concentration and the particle radius are of minor importance for the process of SOA formation in liquid particles. A sensitivity study shows that a 22-fold increase in particle size merely leads to a SOA increase of less than 10 %.

Due to two additional implementations, allowing backward reactions in the particle phase and considering a composition-dependent particle-phase bulk diffusion coefficient, the potential overprediction of the SOA mass with the basic kinetic approach is reduced by about 40 %. HOMs are an important compound group in the early stage of SOA formation because they contribute up to 65 % of the total SOA mass at this stage. HOMs also induce further SOA formation by providing an absorptive medium for SVOCs (semi-volatile organic compounds). This process contributes about 27 % of the total organic mass. The model results are very similar to the LEAK chamber results. Overall, the sensitivity studies demonstrate that the particle reactivity and the particle-phase bulk diffusion require a better characterization in order to improve the current model implementations and to validate the assumptions made from the chamber simulations. The successful implementation and testing of the current kinetic gas-particle partitioning approach in a box model framework will allow further applications in a 3-D model for regional-scale process investigations.

Short summary
Secondary organic aerosol (SOA) represents an important fraction of the particulate matter and, thus, an advanced treatment of SOA processes in models is necessary. Therefore, this investigation aims at sensitivity studies of a kinetic description of SOA formation. The results reveal that the particle-phase state and the reactivity of the organic solutes are key parameters in the SOA formation. Overall, the results show that an advanced kinetic treatment enables improved model predictions.
Final-revised paper