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© 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.

  28 Sep 2020

28 Sep 2020

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This preprint is currently under review for the journal ACP.

Characterization of primary and aged wood burning and coal combustion organic aerosols in environmental chamber and its implications for atmospheric aerosols

Amir Yazdani1, Nikunj Dudani1, Satoshi Takahama1, Amelie Bertrand2, André S. H. Prévôt2, Imad El Haddad2, and Ann M. Dillner3 Amir Yazdani et al.
  • 1ENAC/IIE Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Lausanne (EPFL), 1015 Lausanne, Switzerland
  • 2Laboratory of Atmospheric Chemistry, Paul Scherrer Institute, 5232 Villigen, Switzerland
  • 3Air Quality Research Center, University of California Davis, Davis, California, USA

Abstract. Particulate matter (PM) affects visibility, climate, and public health. Organic matter (OM), a uniquely complex portion of PM, can make up more than half of total atmospheric fine PM. We investigated the effect of aging on secondary organic aerosol (SOA) concentration and composition for wood burning (WB) and coal combustion (CC) emissions, two major atmospheric OM sources, using mid-infrared (MIR) spectroscopy and aerosol mass spectrometry (AMS). For this purpose, primary aerosols were injected into an environmental chamber and aged using hydroxyl (diurnal aging) and nitrate (nocturnal aging) radicals to reach an atmospherically-relevant oxidative age. A time-of-flight AMS instrument was used to measure high-time-resolution composition of non-refractory fine PM, while fine PM was collected on PTFE filters before and after aging for MIR analysis. AMS and MIR spectroscopy indicate an approximately three-fold enhancement of organic aerosol (OA) concentration after aging (not wall-loss corrected). The OM : OC ratios also agree closely between the two methods and increase, on average, from 1.6, before aging, to 2, during the course of aging. MIR spectroscopy, which is able to differentiate among oxygenated groups, shows a distinct functional group composition for aged WB (high abundance of carboxylic acids) and CC OA (high abundance of non-acid carbonyls) and detects aromatics and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) in emissions of both sources. The MIR spectra of fresh WB and CC aerosols are reminiscent of their parent compounds with differences in specific oxygenated functional groups after aging, consistent with expected oxidation pathways for volatile organic compounds (VOCs) of each emission source. The AMS mass spectra also show variations with source and aging that are consistent the MIR functional group (FG) analysis. Finally, comparison of the MIR spectra of chamber WB OA with that of ambient samples affected by residential wood burning and wildfires reveals similarities regarding the high abundance of organics, especially acids, and visible signatures of lignin and levoglucosan. This finding is beneficial to source identification of atmospheric aerosols and interpretation of their complex MIR spectra.

Amir Yazdani et al.

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Amir Yazdani et al.

Amir Yazdani et al.


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Publications Copernicus
Short summary
Functional group composition of primary and aged aerosols from wood burning and coal combustion sources from chamber experiments are interpreted through compounds present in the fuels and known gas-phase oxidation products. Infrared spectra of aged wood burning in the chamber and ambient biomass burning samples reveal striking similarities, and a new method for identifying burning-impacted samples in monitoring network measurements is presented.
Functional group composition of primary and aged aerosols from wood burning and coal combustion...