Reassessing the atmospheric oxidation mechanism of toluene.
ABSTRACT: Photochemical oxidation of aromatic hydrocarbons leads to tropospheric ozone and secondary organic aerosol (SOA) formation, with profound implications for air quality, human health, and climate. Toluene is the most abundant aromatic compound under urban environments, but its detailed chemical oxidation mechanism remains uncertain. From combined laboratory experiments and quantum chemical calculations, we show a toluene oxidation mechanism that is different from the one adopted in current atmospheric models. Our experimental work indicates a larger-than-expected branching ratio for cresols, but a negligible formation of ring-opening products (e.g., methylglyoxal). Quantum chemical calculations also demonstrate that cresols are much more stable than their corresponding peroxy radicals, and, for the most favorable OH (ortho) addition, the pathway of H extraction by O2 to form the cresol proceeds with a smaller barrier than O2 addition to form the peroxy radical. Our results reveal that phenolic (rather than peroxy radical) formation represents the dominant pathway for toluene oxidation, highlighting the necessity to reassess its role in ozone and SOA formation in the atmosphere.
Project description:Aromatic hydrocarbons make up a large fraction of anthropogenic volatile organic compounds and contribute significantly to the production of tropospheric ozone and secondary organic aerosol (SOA). Four toluene and four 1,2,4-trimethylbenzene (1,2,4-TMB) photooxidation experiments were performed in an environmental chamber under relevant polluted conditions (NO x ~ 10ppb). An extensive suite of instrumentation including two proton-transfer-reaction mass spectrometers (PTR-MS) and two chemical ionisation mass spectrometers ( NH4+ CIMS and I- CIMS) allowed for quantification of reactive carbon in multiple generations of hydroxyl radical (OH)-initiated oxidation. Oxidation of both species produces ring-retaining products such as cresols, benzaldehydes, and bicyclic intermediate compounds, as well as ring-scission products such as epoxides and dicarbonyls. We show that the oxidation of bicyclic intermediate products leads to the formation of compounds with high oxygen content (an O : C ratio of up to 1.1). These compounds, previously identified as highly oxygenated molecules (HOMs), are produced by more than one pathway with differing numbers of reaction steps with OH, including both auto-oxidation and phenolic pathways. We report the elemental composition of these compounds formed under relevant urban high-NO conditions. We show that ring-retaining products for these two precursors are more diverse and abundant than predicted by current mechanisms. We present the speciated elemental composition of SOA for both precursors and confirm that highly oxygenated products make up a significant fraction of SOA. Ring-scission products are also detected in both the gas and particle phases, and their yields and speciation generally agree with the kinetic model prediction.
Project description:Atmospheric autoxidation of volatile organic compounds (VOC) leads to prompt formation of highly oxidized multifunctional compounds (HOM) that have been found crucial in forming ambient secondary organic aerosol (SOA). As a radical chain reaction mediated by oxidized peroxy (RO2) and alkoxy (RO) radical intermediates, the formation pathways can be intercepted by suitable reaction partners, preventing the production of the highest oxidized reaction products, and thus the formation of the most condensable material. Commonly, NO is expected to have a detrimental effect on RO2 chemistry, and thus on autoxidation, whereas the influence of NO2 is mostly neglected. Here it is shown by dedicated flow tube experiments, how high concentration of NO2 suppresses cyclohexene ozonolysis initiated autoxidation chain reaction. Importantly, the addition of NO2 ceases covalently bound dimer production, indicating their production involving acylperoxy radical (RC(O)OO•) intermediates. In related experiments NO was also shown to strongly suppress the highly oxidized product formation, but due to possibility for chain propagating reactions (as with RO2 and HO2 too), the suppression is not as absolute as with NO2. Furthermore, it is shown how NO x reactions with oxidized peroxy radicals lead into indistinguishable product compositions, complicating mass spectral assignments in any RO2 + NO x system. The present work was conducted with atmospheric pressure chemical ionization mass spectrometry (CIMS) as the detection method for the highly oxidized end-products and peroxy radical intermediates, under ambient conditions and at short few second reaction times. Specifically, the insight was gained by addition of a large amount of NO2 (and NO) to the oxidation system, upon which acylperoxy radicals reacted in RC(O)O2 + NO2 ? RC(O)O2NO2 reaction to form peroxyacylnitrates, consequently shutting down the oxidation sequence.
Project description:The oxidation of nitric oxide to nitrogen dioxide by hydroperoxy (HO2) and organic peroxy radicals (RO2) is responsible for the chemical net ozone production in the troposphere and for the regeneration of hydroxyl radicals, the most important oxidant in the atmosphere. In Summer 2014, a field campaign was conducted in the North China Plain, where increasingly severe ozone pollution has been experienced in the last years. Chemical conditions in the campaign were representative for this area. Radical and trace gas concentrations were measured, allowing for calculating the turnover rates of gas-phase radical reactions. Therefore, the importance of heterogeneous HO2 uptake on aerosol could be experimentally determined. HO2 uptake could have suppressed ozone formation at that time because of the competition with gas-phase reactions that produce ozone. The successful reduction of the aerosol load in the North China Plain in the last years could have led to a significant decrease of HO2 loss on particles, so that ozone-forming reactions could have gained importance in the last years. However, the analysis of the measured radical budget in this campaign shows that HO2 aerosol uptake did not impact radical chemistry for chemical conditions in 2014. Therefore, reduced HO2 uptake on aerosol since then is likely not the reason for the increasing number of ozone pollution events in the North China Plain, contradicting conclusions made from model calculations reported in the literature.
Project description:Much of our understanding of atmospheric secondary organic aerosol (SOA) formation from volatile organic compounds derives from laboratory chamber measurements, including mass yield and elemental composition. These measurements alone are insufficient to identify the chemical mechanisms of SOA production. We present here a comprehensive dataset on the molecular identity, abundance, and kinetics of ?-pinene SOA, a canonical system that has received much attention owing to its importance as an organic aerosol source in the pristine atmosphere. Identified organic species account for ?58-72% of the ?-pinene SOA mass, and are characterized as semivolatile/low-volatility monomers and extremely low volatility dimers, which exhibit comparable oxidation states yet different functionalities. Features of the ?-pinene SOA formation process are revealed for the first time, to our knowledge, from the dynamics of individual particle-phase components. Although monomeric products dominate the overall aerosol mass, rapid production of dimers plays a key role in initiating particle growth. Continuous production of monomers is observed after the parent ?-pinene is consumed, which cannot be explained solely by gas-phase photochemical production. Additionally, distinct responses of monomers and dimers to ?-pinene oxidation by ozone vs. hydroxyl radicals, temperature, and relative humidity are observed. Gas-phase radical combination reactions together with condensed phase rearrangement of labile molecules potentially explain the newly characterized SOA features, thereby opening up further avenues for understanding formation and evolution mechanisms of ?-pinene SOA.
Project description:In the southeastern US, substantial emissions of isoprene from deciduous trees undergo atmospheric oxidation to form secondary organic aerosol (SOA) that contributes to fine particulate matter (PM2.5). Laboratory studies have revealed that anthropogenic pollutants, such as sulfur dioxide (SO2), oxides of nitrogen (NO x ), and aerosol acidity, can enhance SOA formation from the hydroxyl radical (OH)-initiated oxidation of isoprene; however, the mechanisms by which specific pollutants enhance isoprene SOA in ambient PM2.5 remain unclear. As one aspect of an investigation to examine how anthropogenic pollutants influence isoprene-derived SOA formation, high-volume PM2.5 filter samples were collected at the Birmingham, Alabama (BHM), ground site during the 2013 Southern Oxidant and Aerosol Study (SOAS). Sample extracts were analyzed by gas chromatography-electron ionization-mass spectrometry (GC/EI-MS) with prior trimethylsilylation and ultra performance liquid chromatography coupled to electrospray ionization high-resolution quadrupole time-of-flight mass spectrometry (UPLC/ESI-HR-QTOFMS) to identify known isoprene SOA tracers. Tracers quantified using both surrogate and authentic standards were compared with collocated gas- and particle-phase data as well as meteorological data provided by the Southeastern Aerosol Research and Characterization (SEARCH) network to assess the impact of anthropogenic pollution on isoprene-derived SOA formation. Results of this study reveal that isoprene-derived SOA tracers contribute a substantial mass fraction of organic matter (OM) (~ 7 to ~ 20 %). Isoprene-derived SOA tracers correlated with sulfate ( SO42- ) (r2 = 0.34, n = 117) but not with NO x . Moderate correlations between methacrylic acid epoxide and hydroxymethyl-methyl-?-lactone (together abbreviated MAE/HMML)-derived SOA tracers with nitrate radical production (P[NO3]) (r2 = 0.57, n = 40) were observed during nighttime, suggesting a potential role of the NO3 radical in forming this SOA type. However, the nighttime correlation of these tracers with nitrogen dioxide (NO2) (r2 = 0.26, n = 40) was weaker. Ozone (O3) correlated strongly with MAE/HMML-derived tracers (r2 = 0.72, n = 30) and moderately with 2-methyltetrols (r2 = 0.34, n = 15) during daytime only, suggesting that a fraction of SOA formation could occur from isoprene ozonolysis in urban areas. No correlation was observed between aerosol pH and isoprene-derived SOA. Lack of correlation between aerosol acidity and isoprene-derived SOA is consistent with the observation that acidity is not a limiting factor for isoprene SOA formation at the BHM site as aerosols were acidic enough to promote multiphase chemistry of isoprene-derived epoxides throughout the duration of the study. All in all, these results confirm previous studies suggesting that anthropogenic pollutants enhance isoprene-derived SOA formation.
Project description:Isoprene emitted by vegetation is an important precursor of secondary organic aerosol (SOA), but the mechanism and yields are uncertain. Aerosol is prevailingly aqueous under the humid conditions typical of isoprene-emitting regions. Here we develop an aqueous-phase mechanism for isoprene SOA formation coupled to a detailed gas-phase isoprene oxidation scheme. The mechanism is based on aerosol reactive uptake coefficients (?) for water-soluble isoprene oxidation products, including sensitivity to aerosol acidity and nucleophile concentrations. We apply this mechanism to simulation of aircraft (SEAC4RS) and ground-based (SOAS) observations over the Southeast US in summer 2013 using the GEOS-Chem chemical transport model. Emissions of nitrogen oxides (NOx ? NO + NO2) over the Southeast US are such that the peroxy radicals produced from isoprene oxidation (ISOPO2) react significantly with both NO (high-NOx pathway) and HO2 (low-NOx pathway), leading to different suites of isoprene SOA precursors. We find a mean SOA mass yield of 3.3 % from isoprene oxidation, consistent with the observed relationship of total fine organic aerosol (OA) and formaldehyde (a product of isoprene oxidation). Isoprene SOA production is mainly contributed by two immediate gas-phase precursors, isoprene epoxydiols (IEPOX, 58% of isoprene SOA) from the low-NOx pathway and glyoxal (28%) from both low- and high-NOx pathways. This speciation is consistent with observations of IEPOX SOA from SOAS and SEAC4RS. Observations show a strong relationship between IEPOX SOA and sulfate aerosol that we explain as due to the effect of sulfate on aerosol acidity and volume. Isoprene SOA concentrations increase as NOx emissions decrease (favoring the low-NOx pathway for isoprene oxidation), but decrease more strongly as SO2 emissions decrease (due to the effect of sulfate on aerosol acidity and volume). The US EPA projects 2013-2025 decreases in anthropogenic emissions of 34% for NOx (leading to 7% increase in isoprene SOA) and 48% for SO2 (35% decrease in isoprene SOA). Reducing SO2 emissions decreases sulfate and isoprene SOA by a similar magnitude, representing a factor of 2 co-benefit for PM2.5 from SO2 emission controls.
Project description:In this article, we argue that the primary role of isoprene is to remove the singlet delta oxygen (O2 1?g) that forms inside plants by ultraviolet excitation rather than to provide heat protection or scavenge ozone, OH, or other reactive oxygen species (ROS) in the gas phase. By deploying a quantum chemical framework, we address for the first time the exact mode of isoprene reactions with O2 1?g, the most prominent ROS that causes damage to leaves. Initial reactions of isoprene with O2 1?g comprise its addition at the two terminal carbon atoms. The two primary open-shell adducts that appear in these reactions undergo 1,2-cycloaddition to generate methyl vinyl ketone and methacrolein, the sole products detected from in-house (i.e., inside of plants) oxidation of isoprene. Formation of other products, comprising the peroxy O-O bonds, is kinetically insignificant. Furthermore, these adducts are thermodynamically too unstable to diffuse outside of plants. Oxidation of isoprene with O2 1?g does not produce new ROS (such as OH or HO2), supporting the well-documented role of isoprene as an effective ROS scavenger. Deploying a solvation model reduces the energy requirements for the primary pathways in the range of 10-56 kJ/mol. The present results indicate that plants attach significant value to the in-home protection against O2 1?g by investing carbon and energy into the formation of isoprene, in spite of the appearance of the cytotoxic methyl vinyl ketone as one of the reaction products. (The same chemical species also form in unrelated gas-phase reactions involving isoprene and other ROS.) This finding explains the primary reason for the appearance of the dynamic biosphere-atmosphere exchange of methyl vinyl ketone.
Project description:Visible light photoirradiation of an oxygen-saturated benzonitrile solution of a manganese(III) corrolazine complex [(TBP8Cz)Mn(III)] (1): [TBP8Cz = octakis(p-tert-butylphenyl)corrolazinato(3-)] in the presence of toluene derivatives resulted in formation of the manganese(V)-oxo complex [(TBP8Cz)Mn(V)(O)]. The photochemical oxidation of (TBP8Cz)Mn(III) with O2 and hexamethylbenzene (HMB) led to the isosbestic conversion of 1 to (TBP8Cz)Mn(V)(O), accompanied by the selective oxidation of HMB to pentamethylbenzyl alcohol (87%). The formation rate of (TBP8Cz)Mn(V)(O) increased with methyl group substitution, from toluene, p-xylene, mesitylene, durene, pentamethylbenzene, up to hexamethylbenzene. Deuterium kinetic isotope effects (KIEs) were observed for toluene (KIE = 5.4) and mesitylene (KIE = 5.3). Femtosecond laser flash photolysis of (TBP8Cz)Mn(III) revealed the formation of a tripquintet excited state, which was rapidly converted to a tripseptet excited state. The tripseptet excited state was shown to be the key, activated state that reacts with O2 via a diffusion-limited rate constant. The data allow for a mechanism to be proposed in which the tripseptet excited state reacts with O2 to give the putative (TBP8Cz)Mn(IV)(O2(•-)), which then abstracts a hydrogen atom from the toluene derivatives in the rate-determining step. The mechanism of hydrogen abstraction is discussed by comparison of the reactivity with the hydrogen abstraction from the same toluene derivatives by cumylperoxyl radical. Taken together, the data suggest a new catalytic method is accessible for the selective oxidation of C-H bonds with O2 and light, and the first evidence for catalytic oxidation of C-H bonds was obtained with 10-methyl-9,10-dihydroacridine as a substrate.
Project description:Atmospheric oxidation of natural and anthropogenic volatile organic compounds (VOCs) leads to secondary organic aerosol (SOA), which constitutes a major and often dominant component of atmospheric fine particulate matter (PM2.5). Recent work demonstrates that rapid autoxidation of organic peroxy radicals (RO2) formed during VOC oxidation results in highly oxygenated organic molecules (HOM) that efficiently form SOA. As NOx emissions decrease, the chemical regime of the atmosphere changes to one in which RO2 autoxidation becomes increasingly important, potentially increasing PM2.5, while oxidant availability driving RO2 formation rates simultaneously declines, possibly slowing regional PM2.5 formation. Using a suite of in situ aircraft observations and laboratory studies of HOM, together with a detailed molecular mechanism, we show that although autoxidation in an archetypal biogenic VOC system becomes more competitive as NOx decreases, absolute HOM production rates decrease due to oxidant reductions, leading to an overall positive coupling between anthropogenic NOx and localized biogenic SOA from autoxidation. This effect is observed in the Atlanta, Georgia, urban plume where HOM is enhanced in the presence of elevated NO, and predictions for Guangzhou, China, where increasing HOM-RO2 production coincides with increases in NO from 1990 to 2010. These results suggest added benefits to PM2.5 abatement strategies come with NOx emission reductions and have implications for aerosol-climate interactions due to changes in global SOA resulting from NOx interactions since the preindustrial era.
Project description:Isoprene is the most abundant non-methane volatile organic compound (VOC) and the largest contributor to secondary organic aerosol (SOA) burden on a global scale. In order to examine the influence of high concentrations of anthropogenic pollutants on isoprene-derived SOA (SOA i ) formation, summertime PM2.5 filter samples were collected with a three-hour sampling interval at a rural site in the North China Plain (NCP), and determined for SOA i tracers and other chemical species. RO2+NO pathway derived 2-methylglyceric acid presented a relatively higher contribution to the SOA i due to the high-NOx (~20?ppb) conditions in the NCP that suppressed the reactive uptake of RO2+HO2 reaction derived isoprene epoxydiols. Compared to particle acidity and water content, sulfate plays a dominant role in the heterogeneous formation process of SOA i . Diurnal variation and correlation of 2-methyltetrols with ozone suggested an important effect of isoprene ozonolysis on SOA i formation. SOA i increased linearly with levoglucosan during June 10-18, which can be attributed to an increasing emission of isoprene caused by the field burning of wheat straw and a favorable aqueous SOA formation during the aging process of the biomass burning plume. Our results suggested that isoprene oxidation is highly influenced by intensive anthropogenic activities in the NCP.