On the importance of multiphase photolysis of organic nitrates on their global atmospheric removal


  • González-Sánchez Juan Miguel
  • Brun Nicolas
  • Wu Junteng
  • Ravier Sylvain
  • Clément Jean-Louis
  • Monod Anne

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Abstract. Organic nitrates (RONO2) are secondary compounds, and their fate is related to the transport and removal of NOx in the atmosphere. While previous research studies have focused on the reactivity of these molecules in the gas phase, their reactivity in condensed phases remains poorly explored despite their ubiquitous presence in submicron aerosols. This work investigated for the first time the aqueous-phase photolysis-rate constants and quantum yields of four RONO2 (isopropyl nitrate, isobutyl nitrate, α-nitrooxyacetone, and 1-nitrooxy-2-propanol). Our results showed much lower photolysis-rate constants for these RONO2 in the aqueous phase than in the gas phase. From alkyl nitrates to polyfunctional RONO2, no significant increase of their aqueous-phase photolysis-rate constants was observed, even for RONO2 with conjugated carbonyl groups, in contrast with the corresponding gas-phase photolysis reactions. Using these new results, extrapolated to other alkyl and polyfunctional RONO2, in combination with estimates for the other atmospheric sinks (hydrolysis, gas-phase photolysis, aqueous- and gas-phase ⚫OH oxidation, dry and wet deposition), multiphase atmospheric lifetimes were calculated for 45 atmospherically relevant RONO2 along with the relative importance of each sink. Their lifetimes range from a few minutes to several hours depending on the RONO2 chemical structure and its water solubility. In general, multiphase atmospheric lifetimes are lengthened when RONO2 partition to the aqueous phase, especially for conjugated carbonyl nitrates for which lifetimes can increase by up to 100 %. Furthermore, our results show that aqueous-phase ⚫OH oxidation is a major sink for water-soluble RONO2 (KH>105 M atm−1) ranging from 50 % to 70 % of their total sink at high liquid water content (LWC) (0.35 g m−3). These results highlight the importance of investigating the aqueous-phase RONO2 reactivity to understand how it affects their ability to transport air pollution.

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