Gas–particle partitioning of toluene oxidation products: an experimental and modeling study


  • Lannuque Victor
  • d'Anna Barbara
  • Kostenidou Evangelia
  • Couvidat Florian
  • Martinez-Valiente Alvaro
  • Eichler Philipp
  • Wisthaler Armin
  • Müller Markus
  • Temime-Roussel Brice
  • Valorso Richard
  • Sartelet Karine

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Toluene represents a large fraction of anthropogenic emissions and significantly contributes to tropospheric ozone and secondary organic aerosol (SOA) formation. Despite the fact that toluene is one of the most studied aromatic compounds, detailed chemical mechanisms still fail to correctly reproduce the speciation of toluene gaseous and condensed oxidation products. This study aims to elucidate the role of initial experimental conditions in toluene SOA mass loadings and to investigate gas–particle partitioning of its reaction products at different relevant temperatures. Gaseous and particulate reaction products were identified and quantified using a proton transfer reaction time-of-flight mass spectrometer (PTR-ToF-MS) coupled to a CHemical Analysis of aeRosol ONline (CHARON) inlet. The chemical system exhibited a volatility distribution mostly in the semi-volatile regime. Temperature decrease caused a shift of saturation concentration towards lower values. The CHARON–PTR-ToF-MS instrument identified and quantified approximately 60 %–80 % of the total organic mass measured by an aerosol mass spectrometer. A detailed mechanism for toluene gaseous oxidation was developed based on the Master Chemical Mechanism (MCM) and Generator for Explicit Chemistry and Kinetics of Organics in the Atmosphere (GECKO-A) deterministic mechanisms, modified following the literature. The new mechanism showed improvements in modeling oxidation product speciation with more observed species represented and more representative concentrations compared to the MCM–GECKO-A reference. Tests on partitioning processes, nonideality, and wall losses highlighted the high dependency of SOA formation on the considered processes. Our results underline the fact that volatility is not sufficient to explain the gas–particle partitioning: the organic and the aqueous phases need to be considered as well as the interactions between compounds in the particle phase.

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