Influence of the vapor wall loss on the degradation rate constants in chamber experiments of levoglucosan and other biomass burning markers


  • Bertrand Amelie
  • Stefenelli Giulia
  • Pieber Simone
  • Bruns Emily
  • Temime-Roussel Brice
  • Slowik Jay
  • Wortham Henri
  • Prevot André
  • El Haddad Imad
  • Marchand Nicolas

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Vapor wall loss has only recently been shown a potentially significant bias in atmospheric chamber studies. Yet, previous works aiming at the determination of the degradation rate of semi-volatile organic compounds (SVOCs) often did not account for this process. Here, we evaluate the influence of vapor wall loss on the determination of the gas-phase reaction rate kOH of several biomass burning markers (levoglucosan, mannosan, coniferyl aldehyde, 3-guaiacyl propanol, and acetosyringone) with hydroxyl radicals (OH). Emissions from the combustion of beech wood were injected into a 5.5m3 Teflon atmospheric chamber, and aged for 4h (equivalent to 5–8h in the atmosphere). The particle-phase compound concentrations were monitored using a thermal desorption aerosol gas chromatograph coupled to a high-resolution time-of-flight aerosol mass spectrometer (TAG-AMS). The observed depletion of the concentration was later modeled using two different approaches: the previously published approach which does not take into consideration partitioning and vapor wall loss, and an approach with a more complex theoretical framework which integrates all the processes likely influencing the particle-phase concentration. We find that with the first approach one fails to predict the measured markers' concentration time evolution. With the second approach, we determine that partitioning and vapor wall loss play a predominant role in the particle-phase concentration depletion of all the compounds, while the reactivity with OH has a non-significative effect. Furthermore, we show that kOH cannot be determined precisely without a strong constraint of the whole set of physical parameters necessary to formally describe the various processes involved. It was found that the knowledge of the saturation mass concentration C* is especially crucial. Therefore, previously published rate constants of levoglucosan and more generally SVOCs with hydroxyl radicals inferred from atmospheric chamber experiments must be, at least, considered with caution.

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