Articles | Volume 18, issue 8
Research article
20 Apr 2018
Research article |  | 20 Apr 2018

Characterization of organic nitrate constituents of secondary organic aerosol (SOA) from nitrate-radical-initiated oxidation of limonene using high-resolution chemical ionization mass spectrometry

Cameron Faxon, Julia Hammes, Michael Le Breton, Ravi Kant Pathak, and Mattias Hallquist

Abstract. The gas-phase nitrate radical (NO3) initiated oxidation of limonene can produce organic nitrate species with varying physical properties. Low-volatility products can contribute to secondary organic aerosol (SOA) formation and organic nitrates may serve as a NOx reservoir, which could be especially important in regions with high biogenic emissions. This work presents the measurement results from flow reactor studies on the reaction of NO3 with limonene using a High-Resolution Time-of-Flight Chemical Ionization Mass Spectrometer (HR-ToF-CIMS) combined with a Filter Inlet for Gases and AEROsols (FIGAERO). Major condensed-phase species were compared to those in the Master Chemical Mechanism (MCM) limonene mechanism, and many non-listed species were identified. The volatility properties of the most prevalent organic nitrates in the produced SOA were determined. Analysis of multiple experiments resulted in the identification of several dominant species (including C10H15NO6, C10H17NO6, C8H11NO6, C10H17NO7, and C9H13NO7) that occurred in the SOA under all conditions considered. Additionally, the formation of dimers was consistently observed and these species resided almost completely in the particle phase. The identities of these species are discussed, and formation mechanisms are proposed. Cluster analysis of the desorption temperatures corresponding to the analyzed particle-phase species yielded at least five distinct groupings based on a combination of molecular weight and desorption profile. Overall, the results indicate that the oxidation of limonene by NO3 produces a complex mixture of highly oxygenated monomer and dimer products that contribute to SOA formation.

Short summary
Nighttime oxidation of organic compounds emitted from vegetation produce aerosol particles affecting climate and human health. Here we apply state-of the-art chemical characterization for a detailed study on the oxidation of limonene initiated by the nitrate radical. We now have the identity of major nitrated products and their thermal properties. Including a cluster analysis, through this study, new knowledge supporting modeling and field observations of organic nitrates is gained.
Final-revised paper