Particle wall-loss correction methods in smog chamber experiments
The interaction of particles with the chamber walls has been a significant source of uncertainty when analyzing results of secondary organic aerosol (SOA) formation experiments performed in Teflon chambers. A number of particle wall-loss correction methods have been proposed including the use of a size-independent loss rate constant, the ratio of suspended organic mass to that of a conserved tracer (e.g., sulfate seeds), and a size-dependent loss rate constant, etc. For complex experiments such as the chemical aging of SOA, the results of the SOA quantification analysis can be quite sensitive to the adopted correction method due to the evolution of the particle size distribution and the duration of these experiments. We evaluated the performance of several particle wall-loss correction methods for aging experiments of α-pinene ozonolysis products. Determining the loss rates from seed loss periods is necessary for this system because it is not clear when chemical reactions have been completed. Results from the OA ∕ sulfate ratio and the size-independent correction methods can be influenced significantly by the size dependence of the particle wall-loss process. Coagulation can also affect the particle size distribution, especially for particles with diameter less than 100 nm, thus introducing errors in the results of the wall-loss correction. The corresponding loss rate constants may vary from experiment to experiment, and even during a specific experiment. Friction between the Teflon chamber walls and non-conductive surfaces can significantly increase particle wall-loss rates and the chamber may require weeks to recover to its original condition. Experimental procedures are proposed for the characterization of particle losses during different stages of these experiments and the evaluation of corresponding particle wall-loss correction.