First Advisor

Kelley Barsanti

Date of Publication

Summer 9-5-2013

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (M.S.) in Civil & Environmental Engineering


Civil and Environmental Engineering




Gas chromatography -- Research, Time-of-flight mass spectrometry -- Research, Volatile organic compounds -- Measurement -- Research, Air -- Pollution -- Environmental aspects -- Research



Physical Description

1 online resource (vi, 64 pages)


The oxidation of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) plays a role in both regional and global air quality through the formation of secondary organic aerosols (SOA). More than 1000TgC/yr of non-methane VOCs are emitted from biogenic sources (significantly greater than from anthropogenic sources). Despite this magnitude and potential importance for air quality, the body of knowledge around the identities, quantities and oxidation processes of these compounds is still incomplete (e.g., Goldstein & Galbally, 2007; Robinson et al., 2009). Two-dimensional gas chromatography paired with time-of-flight mass spectrometry (GC×GC/TOFMS) is a powerful analytical technique which is explored here for its role in better characterizing biogenic VOCs (BVOCs) and thus SOA precursors.

This work presents measurements of BVOCs collected during two field campaigns and analyzed using GC×GC/TOFMS. The first campaign, the Bio-hydro-atmosphere Interactions of Energy, Aerosols, Carbon, H2O, Organics & Nitrogen - Rocky Mountain Biogenic Aerosol Study (BEACHON-RoMBAS), took place in a Ponderosa pine forest in Colorado. The second campaign, Particle Investigations at a Northern Ozarks Tower: NOx, Oxidant, Isoprene Research (PINOT NOIR) Study, was conducted in the Ozark region of Missouri. Tens to hundreds of BVOCs were quantified in each set of samples, including primary emissions, atmospheric oxidation products, stress indicators and semi-volatile leaf surface compounds. These findings highlight that there is a largely uncharacterized diversity of BVOCs in ambient samples. Our findings demonstrate that GC×GC can distinguish between compounds with the same molecular weight and similar structures, which have highly variable potentials for production of SOA (Lee et al., 2006). This work represents some of the first analysis of ambient BVOCs with this technology, which is anticipated to contribute greatly to characterization of atmospheric SOA precursors and ultimately, regional and global modeling of SOA and fine particulate matter.


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