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Inorganic salts interact with organic di-acids in sub-micron particles to form material with low hygroscopicity and volatility.

Drozd, G.; Woo, Joseph; Hakkinen, S.A.K.; Nenes, Athanasios; McNeill, Vivian Faye

Volatility and hygroscopicity are two key properties of organic aerosol components, and both are strongly related to chemical identity. Here we show that inorganic-organic component interactions typically not considered in atmospheric models may strongly affect aerosol volatility and hygroscopicity. In particular, bi-dentate binding of di-carboxylic acids (DCA) to soluble inorganic ions can lead to very strongly bound metal-organic complexes with largely undetermined hygroscopicity and volatility. These reactions profoundly impact particle hygroscopicity, transforming hygroscopic components into irreversibly non-hygroscopic material. While the hygroscopicities of pure salts, DCA, and DCA salts are known, the hygroscopicity of internal mixtures of hygroscopic salts and DCA, as they are typically found in the atmosphere, has not been fully characterized. We have studied the volatility of pure, dry organic salt particles and the hygroscopicity of internal mixtures of oxalic acid (OxA, the dominant DCA in the atmosphere) and a number of salts, both mono- and di-valent. The formation of very low volatility organic salts was confirmed, with minimal evaporation of oxalate salt particles below 75 C. Dramatic increases in the CCN activation diameter for particles with divalent salts (e.g. CaCl2) and relatively small particle mass fractions of OxA indicate that standard volume additivity rules for hygroscopicity do not apply. Thus small organic compounds with high O : C are capable of forming low volatility and very low hygroscopicity particles. Given current knowledge of the formation mechanisms of OxA and M-Ox salts, surface enrichment of insoluble M-Ox salts is expected. The resulting formation of an insoluble coating of metal-oxalate salts can explain low particle hygroscopicities. The formation of particles with a hard coating could offer an alternative explanation for observations of glass-like particles with very low viscosity.


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Also Published In

Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics Discussions

More About This Work

Academic Units
Chemical Engineering
European Geosciences Union
Published Here
January 31, 2014