Articles | Volume 18, issue 2
Research article
26 Jan 2018
Research article |  | 26 Jan 2018

Hygroscopicity of organic surrogate compounds from biomass burning and their effect on the efflorescence of ammonium sulfate in mixed aerosol particles

Ting Lei, Andreas Zuend, Yafang Cheng, Hang Su, Weigang Wang, and Maofa Ge

Abstract. Hygroscopic growth factors of organic surrogate compounds representing biomass burning and mixed organic–inorganic aerosol particles exhibit variability during dehydration experiments depending on their chemical composition, which we observed using a hygroscopicity tandem differential mobility analyzer (HTDMA). We observed that levoglucosan and humic acid aerosol particles release water upon dehumidification in the range from 90 to 5 % relative humidity (RH). However, 4-Hydroxybenzoic acid aerosol particles remain in the solid state upon dehumidification and exhibit a small shrinking in size at higher RH compared to the dry size. For example, the measured growth factor of 4-hyroxybenzoic acid aerosol particles is  ∼  0.96 at 90 % RH. The measurements were accompanied by RH-dependent thermodynamic equilibrium calculations using the Aerosol Inorganic–Organic Mixtures Functional groups Activity Coefficients (AIOMFAC) model and Extended Aerosol Inorganics Model (E-AIM), the Zdanovskii–Stokes–Robinson (ZSR) relation, and a fitted hygroscopicity expression. We observed several effects of organic components on the hygroscopicity behavior of mixtures containing ammonium sulfate (AS) in relation to the different mass fractions of organic compounds: (1) a shift of efflorescence relative humidity (ERH) of ammonium sulfate to higher RH due to the presence of 25 wt % levoglucosan in the mixture. (2) There is a distinct efflorescence transition at 25 % RH for mixtures consisting of 25 wt % of 4-hydroxybenzoic acid compared to the ERH at 35 % for organic-free AS particles. (3) There is indication for a liquid-to-solid phase transition of 4-hydroxybenzoic acid in the mixed particles during dehydration. (4) A humic acid component shows no significant effect on the efflorescence of AS in mixed aerosol particles. In addition, consideration of a composition-dependent degree of dissolution of crystallization AS (solid–liquid equilibrium) in the AIOMFAC and E-AIM models leads to a relatively good agreement between models and observed growth factors, as well as ERH of AS in the mixed system. The use of the ZSR relation leads to good agreement with measured diameter growth factors of aerosol particles containing humic acid and ammonium sulfate. Lastly, two distinct mixtures of organic surrogate compounds, including levoglucosan, 4-hydroxybenzoic acid, and humic acid, were used to represent the average water-soluble organic carbon (WSOC) fractions observed during the wet and dry seasons in the central Amazon Basin. A comparison of the organic fraction's hygroscopicity parameter for the simple mixtures, e.g., κ ≈  0.12 to 0.15 for the wet-season mixture in the 90 to 40 % RH range, shows good agreement with field data for the wet season in the Amazon Basin (WSOC κ ≈ 0.14±0.06 at 90 % RH). This suggests that laboratory-generated mixtures containing organic surrogate compounds and ammonium sulfate can be used to mimic, in a simplified manner, the chemical composition of ambient aerosols from the Amazon Basin for the purpose of RH-dependent hygroscopicity studies.

Short summary
Measurements and thermodynamic equilibrium predictions for organic–inorganic aerosols related to components from biomass burning emissions demonstrate a diversity of hygroscopic growth and shrinking behavior, which we observed using a hygroscopicity tandem differential mobility analyzer (HTDMA). Controlled laboratory experiments with single solutes and/or with mixed organic–inorganic systems of known phase state will be useful to constrain model parameters of thermodynamic equilibrium models.
Final-revised paper