Chemical characterisation of semi-volatile and aerosol compounds from the photooxidation of toluene and NOx

Stephen J. White, Ian M. Jamie*, Dennys E. Angove

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

30 Citations (Scopus)


The chemical composition of a gas phase and secondary organic aerosol (SOA) mixture from toluene photooxidation in NOx was determined. Aerosol from toluene photooxidation was generated in a smog chamber and was collected onto glass fibre filters along with those gas phase compounds which adhered to the filter. The filter bound organic material was extracted, derivatised with O-2,3,4,5,6-pentafluorobenzyl hydroxylamine (PFBHA) and N,O-bistrimethylsilyl-trifluoroacetamide (BSTFA), then analysed using gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC-MS). Compound identification was aided by the use of isotopically-labelled toluene. The effect of humidity on product formation was investigated by raising water vapour concentration in one experiment.Sixty compounds were identified, of which twenty had not been identified from toluene photooxidation previously. Small carboxylic acids and dicarbonyls provided the highest proportion of identifiable compounds by relative response. The use of water to extract the filter samples resulted in much higher relative responses for oxocarboxylic acids, such as glyoxylic acid and pyruvic acid, than has been observed in previous studies. The formation of levulinic acid was determined to be due to the reaction of water with aromatic photooxidation products in the gas phase or particle phase of the chamber experiment. Nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) was used to determine the functional groups of water-extracted organic material, which indicated that the water-soluble components were comprised of compounds which contain similar functional groups, primarily alcohols and carboxylic acids.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)237-244
Number of pages8
JournalAtmospheric Environment
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2014


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