Online measurements of the emissions of intermediate-volatility and semi-volatile organic compounds from aircraft
A detailed understanding of the climate and air quality impacts of aviation requires measurements of the emissions of intermediate-volatility and semi-volatile organic compounds (I/SVOCs) from aircraft. Currently both the amount and chemical composition of aircraft I/SVOC emissions remain poorly characterized. Here we characterize I/SVOC emissions from aircraft, using a novel instrument for the online, quantitative measurement of the mass loading and composition of low-volatility organic vapors. Emissions from the NASA DC8 aircraft were sampled on the ground 143 m downwind of the engines and characterized as a function of engine power from idle (4% maximum rated thrust) through 85% power. Results show that I/SVOC emissions are highest during engine idle operating conditions, with decreasing but non-zero I/SVOC emissions at higher engine powers. Comparison of I/SVOC emissions with total hydrocarbon (THC) measurements, VOC measurements, and an established emissions profile indicates that I/SVOCs comprise 10–20% of the total organic gas-phase emissions at idle, and an increasing fraction of the total gas-phase organic emissions at higher powers. Positive matrix factorization of online mass spectra is used to identify three distinct types of I/SVOC emissions: aliphatic, aromatic and oxygenated. The volatility and chemical composition of the emissions suggest that unburned fuel is the dominant source of I/SVOCs at idle, while pyrolysis products make up an increasing fraction of the I/SVOCs at higher powers. Oxygenated I/SVOC emissions were detected at lower engine powers (≤30%) and may be linked to cracked, partially oxidized or unburned fuel components.