Effect of inorganic-to-organic mass ratio on the heterogeneous OH reaction rates of erythritol: implications for atmospheric chemical stability of 2-methyltetrols

Xu, Rongshuang; Lam, Hoi Ki; Wilson, Kevin R.; Davies, James F.; Song, Mijung; Li, Wentao; Tse, Ying-Lung Steve; Chan, Man Nin

The 2-methyltetrols have been widely chosen as chemical tracers for isoprene-derived secondary organic aerosols. While they are often assumed to be relatively unreactive, a laboratory study reported that pure erythritol particles (an analog of 2-methyltetrols) can be heterogeneously oxidized by gas-phase OH radicals at a significant rate. This might question the efficacy of these compounds as tracers in aerosol source-apportionment studies. Additional uncertainty could arise as organic compounds and inorganic salts often coexist in atmospheric particles. To gain more insights into the chemical stability of 2-methyltetrols in atmospheric particles, this study investigates the heterogeneous OH oxidation of pure erythritol particles and particles containing erythritol and ammonium sulfate (AS) at different dry inorganic-to-organic mass ratios (IOR) in an aerosol flow tube reactor at a high relative humidity of 85 %. The same reaction products are formed upon heterogenous OH oxidation of erythritol and erythritol–AS particles, suggesting that the reaction pathways are not strongly affected by the presence and amount of AS. On the other hand, the effective OH uptake coefficient, inline-formulaγeff, is found to decrease by about a factor of inline-formula∼20 from inline-formula0.45±0.025 to inline-formula0.02±0.001 when the relative abundance of AS increases and the IOR increases from 0.0 to 5.0. One likely explanation is the presence of dissolved ions slows down the reaction rates by decreasing the surface concentration of erythritol and reducing the frequency of collision between erythritol and gas-phase OH radicals at the particle surface. Hence, the heterogeneous OH reactivity of erythritol and likely 2-methyltetrols in atmospheric particles would be slower than previously thought when the salts are present. Given 2-methyltetrols often coexist with a significant amount of AS in many environments, where ambient IOR can vary from inline-formula∼1.89 to inline-formula∼250, our kinetic data would suggest that 2-methyltetrols in atmospheric particles are likely chemically stable against heterogeneous OH oxidation under humid conditions.

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Xu, Rongshuang / Lam, Hoi Ki / Wilson, Kevin R. / et al: Effect of inorganic-to-organic mass ratio on the heterogeneous OH reaction rates of erythritol: implications for atmospheric chemical stability of 2-methyltetrols. 2020. Copernicus Publications.

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