Secondary organic aerosol formation from toluene in an atmospheric hydrocarbon mixture

Water and particle seed effects

Richard M. Kamens*, Haofei Zhang, Eric H. Chen, Yang Zhou, Harshal M. Parikh, Rebecca L. Wilson, Katherine E. Galloway, Elias P. Rosen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

64 Citations (Scopus)


Atmospherically relevant secondary organic aerosol (SOA) concentrations from toluene, in an urban hydrocarbon environment, with oxides of nitrogen in natural sunlight, were studied in a large outdoor chamber with different initial humidity and types of initial seed aerosols. Ammonium sulfate particles (38μgm-3) in the presence of an atmospheric hydrocarbon mixture and NOx in sunlight under a dry atmosphere (%RH=6 to 10%) show reduced SOA formation when compared to similar gas phase conditions with lower ammonium sulfate (7μgm-3) and higher relative humidities (%RH 40 to 90%). No post particle nucleation (particles in the 6 to 10nm range) was observed in either seeded system. When initial background particles levels were below 0.5μgm-3 particle nucleation was observed. A new condensed aromatic kinetic chemical mechanism was developed to simulate experimental data. A particle water phase was highly related to SOA formation. Reasonable fits to the gas and total SOA concentrations emphasize the important impact of different initial particle seed levels and particle phase water when simulating SOA formation from aromatic compounds like toluene.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2324-2334
Number of pages11
JournalAtmospheric Environment
Issue number13
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • Glyoxal
  • Secondary organic aerosol modeling
  • SOA yields
  • Toluene SOA
  • Water phase

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