Mason, Laura E. (2010-01). Linking Chemical Changes in Soot and Polyaromatics to Cloud Droplet Formation. Master's Thesis. Thesis uri icon


  • Soot and other products of incomplete combustion play an important role in the chemistry of the atmosphere. As particles are exposed to trace gases, such as ozone, their chemistry and physical properties can be altered leading to changes in their optical properties, as well as their cloud condensation nuclei and ice nucleation abilities. These alterations can lead to changes in the global radiative budget and cloud microphysical processes, which in turn affect the climate. In this study, the chemical and physical changes associated with the oxidation of pyrene, anthracene, and carbon (lampblack) by ozone were investigated. Fourier Transform Infrared Spectroscopy was used to identify oxidation products and track reaction progress for these representative aerosols. A C=O band attributed to a carboxylic acid formation was observed for all three substances, at each level of exposure to ozone - 20 ppm, 40 ppm, and 80 ppm. Second order reaction rate constants ranged from 9.58 x 10-16 cm2 molecules-1 s-1 to 7.71 x 10-13 cm2 molecules-1 s-1. Measurements of water uptake, ice nucleation efficiency, and optical properties were obtained to determine whether any physical changes associated with the oxidation process occurred. Optical measurements show an increase in the ultra-violet absorption of anthracene, but not for pyrene, while an increase in the visible absorption for pyrene was observed, but not for anthracene. Oxidized soot froze at a warmer temperature (-22.8 degrees C) then fresh soot (-25.6 degrees C), showing an increase in ice nucleation efficiency. Our data indicates that oxidation by ozone does alter the chemistry and physical properties of the substances study, leading to possible changes in how they interact with atmospheric processes.

publication date

  • August 2009