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The effect of photochemical ageing and initial precursor concentration on the composition and hygroscopic properties of beta-caryophyllene secondary organic aerosol

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JournalAtmospheric Chemistry and Physics
DatePublished - 2012
Issue number14
Pages (from-to)6417-6436
Original languageEnglish


The effect of photochemical ageing and initial precursor concentration on the composition and hygroscopic properties of secondary organic aerosol (SOA) formed during the chamber photo-oxidation of beta-caryophyllene/NOx mixtures were investigated. Nucleation of beta-caryophyllene SOA particles occurred almost immediately after oxidation was initiated and led to the formation of fresh SOA with a relatively simpler composition than has been reported for monoterpenes. The SOA yield values ranged from 9.5-26.7% and 30.4-44.5% using a differential mobility particle sizer (DMPS) and an aerosol mass spectrometer (AMS) mass based measurements, respectively. A total of 20 compounds were identified in the SOA by LC-MS/MS, with the most abundant compounds identified as beta-caryophyllonic acid and beta-caryophyllinic acid/beta-nocaryophyllonic acid. The O:C and H:C elemental ratios of products identified in the condensed phase ranged from 0.20 to 1.00 and 1.00 to 2.00, with average values of 0.39 and 1.58, respectively. The increase in the O:C ratio was associated with a decrease in the saturation concentration of the identified compounds. The compounds identified in the lower initial concentration experiments were more oxidised compared to those that were found to be more abundant in the higher initial concentration experiments with average O:C ratios of 0.51 and 0.27, respectively. Photochemical ageing led to a more complex SOA composition with a larger contribution coming from lower molar mass, higher generation products, where both double bonds had been oxidised. This effect was more evident in the experiments conducted using the lower initial precursor concentration; a finding confirmed by the temporal behaviour of key organic mass fragment measured by an Aerosol Mass Spectrometer. Although the composition changed with both initial precursor concentration and ageing, this had no significant measurable effect on the hygroscopic properties of the SOA formed. The latter finding might have been influenced by the difference in pre-treatment of the semivolatile-containing particles prior to their measurements.

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