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Atmospheric Environment

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Glyoxal, Air quality -- Computer simulation, Air -- Pollution


A modified near-explicit Master Chemical Mechanism (MCM, version 3.2) with 5727 species and 16,930 reactions and an equilibrium partitioning module was incorporated into the Community Air Quality Model (CMAQ) to predict the regional concentrations of secondary organic aerosol (SOA) from volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in the eastern United States (US). In addition to the semi-volatile SOA from equilibrium partitioning, reactive surface uptake processes were used to simulate SOA formation due to isoprene epoxydiol, glyoxal and methylglyoxal. The CMAQ-MCM-SOA model was applied to simulate SOA formation during a two-week episode from August 28 to September 7, 2006. The southeastern US has the highest SOA, with a maximum episode-averaged concentration of ∼12 μg m−3. Primary organic aerosol (POA) and SOA concentrations predicted by CMAQ-MCM-SOA agree well with AMS-derived hydrocarbon-like organic aerosol (HOA) and oxygenated organic aerosol (OOA) urban concentrations at the Moody Tower at the University of Houston. Predicted molecular properties of SOA (O/C, H/C, N/C and OM/OC ratios) at the site are similar to those reported in other urban areas, and O/C values agree with measured O/C at the same site. Isoprene epoxydiol is predicted to be the largest contributor to total SOA concentration in the southeast US, followed by methylglyoxal and glyoxal. The semi-volatile SOA components are dominated by products from β-caryophyllene oxidation, but the major species and their concentrations are sensitive to errors in saturation vapor pressure estimation. A uniform decrease of saturation vapor pressure by a factor of 100 for all condensable compounds can lead to a 150% increase in total SOA. A sensitivity simulation with UNIFAC-calculated activity coefficients (ignoring phase separation and water molecule partitioning into the organic phase) led to a 10% change in the predicted semi-volatile SOA concentrations.


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