Journal cover Journal topic
Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
Journal topic

Journal metrics

IF value: 5.414
IF 5-year value: 5.958
IF 5-year
CiteScore value: 9.7
SNIP value: 1.517
IPP value: 5.61
SJR value: 2.601
Scimago H <br class='widget-line-break'>index value: 191
Scimago H
h5-index value: 89
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

  10 Aug 2020

10 Aug 2020

Review status
This preprint is currently under review for the journal ACP.

Photochemical degradation of iron(III)-citrate/citric acid aerosol quantified with the combination of three complementary experimental techniques and a kinetic process model

Jing Dou1, Peter A. Alpert2, Pablo Corral Arroyo2,a, Beiping Luo1, Frederic Schneider2, Jacinta Xto3, Thomas Huthwelker3, Camelia N. Borca3, Katja D. Henzler3, Jörg Raabe4, Benjamin Watts4, Hartmut Herrmann5, Thomas Peter1, Markus Ammann2, and Ulrich K. Krieger1 Jing Dou et al.
  • 1Institute for Atmospheric and Climate Science, ETH Zürich, 8092 Zürich, Switzerland
  • 2Laboratory of Environmental Chemistry, Paul Scherrer Institute, 5232 Villigen, Switzerland
  • 3Laboratory for Synchrotron Radiation and Femtochemistry, Paul Scherrer Institute, 5232 Villigen, Switzerland
  • 4Laboratory for Synchrotron Radiation-Condensed Matter, Paul Scherrer Institute, 5232 Villigen, Switzerland
  • 5Atmospheric Chemistry Department (ACD), Leibniz-Institute for Tropospheric Research (TROPOS), 04318 Leipzig, Germany
  • anow at: Department of Chemistry and Applied Biosciences, ETH Zürich, 8093 Zürich, Switzerland

Abstract. Iron(III) carboxylate photochemistry plays an important role in aerosol aging, especially in the lower troposphere. These complexes can absorb light over a broad wavelength range, inducing the reduction of iron(III) and the oxidation of carboxylate ligands. In the presence of O2, ensuing radical chemistry leads to further decarboxylation, and the production of ·OH, HO2·, peroxides, and oxygenated volatile organic compounds, contributing to particle mass loss. The ·OH, HO2·, and peroxides in turn re-oxidize iron(II) back to iron(III), closing a photocatalytic cycle. This cycle is repeated resulting in continual mass loss due to the release of CO2 and other volatile compounds. In a cold and/or dry atmosphere, organic aerosol particles tend to attain highly viscous states. While the impact of reduced mobility of aerosol constituents on dark chemical reactions has received substantial attention, studies on the effect of high viscosity on photochemical processes are scarce. Here, we choose iron(III)-citrate (FeIII(Cit)) as a model light absorbing iron carboxylate complex that induces citric acid (CA) degradation to investigate how transport limitations influence photochemical processes. Three complementary experimental approaches were used to investigate kinetic transport limitations. The mass loss of single, levitated particles was measured with an electrodynamic balance, the oxidation state of deposited particles was measured with X-ray spectromicroscopy, and HO2· radical production and release into the gas phase was observed in coated wall flow tube experiments. To quantitatively compare these experiments and determine important physical and chemical parameters, a numerical multi-layered photochemical reaction and diffusion (PRAD) model that treats chemical reactions and transport of various species was developed. We observed significant photochemical degradation, with up to 80 % mass loss within 24 hours of light exposure. Interestingly, we also observed that mass loss always accelerated during irradiation, resulting in an increase of the mass loss rate by about a factor of 10. When we increased relative humidity, the observed particle mass loss rate also increased. This is consistent with strong kinetic transport limitations for highly viscous particles. The PRAD model was tuned to reproduce all experimental results and captured the essential chemistry and transport during irradiation. In particular, the photolysis rate of FeIII, the re-oxidation rate of FeII, HO2· production, and the diffusivity of O2 in aqueous FeIII(Cit)/CA system as function of relative humidity and FeIII(Cit) / CA molar ratio could be constrained. Photochemical degradation under atmospheric conditions predicted by the PRAD model shows that release of CO2 and re-partitioning of organic compounds to the gas phase may be very significant to accurately predict organic aerosol aging processes.

Jing Dou et al.

Interactive discussion

Status: open (until 05 Oct 2020)
Status: open (until 05 Oct 2020)
AC: Author comment | RC: Referee comment | SC: Short comment | EC: Editor comment
[Subscribe to comment alert] Printer-friendly Version - Printer-friendly version Supplement - Supplement

Jing Dou et al.

Jing Dou et al.


Total article views: 259 (including HTML, PDF, and XML)
HTML PDF XML Total BibTeX EndNote
164 92 3 259 3 3
  • HTML: 164
  • PDF: 92
  • XML: 3
  • Total: 259
  • BibTeX: 3
  • EndNote: 3
Views and downloads (calculated since 10 Aug 2020)
Cumulative views and downloads (calculated since 10 Aug 2020)

Viewed (geographical distribution)

Total article views: 124 (including HTML, PDF, and XML) Thereof 123 with geography defined and 1 with unknown origin.
Country # Views %
  • 1



No saved metrics found.


No discussed metrics found.
Latest update: 25 Sep 2020
Publications Copernicus