First Advisor

Robert J. O'Brien

Term of Graduation

Fall 1993

Date of Publication


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (M.S.) in Chemistry






Hydrocarbons -- Analysis, Volatile organic compounds -- Measurement



Physical Description

1 online resource (2, iii, 63 pages)


This treatise studied two correlated important issues in atmospheric chemistry: real-time monitoring of ambient air and removal mechanisms of atmospheric hydrocarbons. An analytical system was designed for the purpose of identification and measurement of sub-ppb level hydrocarbons of different reactivities in air samples. This analytical system was then applied to a series of smog-chamber studies which simulated the removal of reactive hydrocarbons from the atmosphere by reaction with hydroxyl radicals. Six representative atmospheric hydrocarbons (hexane, octane, toluene, m-xylene, a-xylene and mesitylene) were selected for these experiments. The experimental data indicated that the decay of atmospheric hydrocarbons under laboratory conditions is entirely due to reaction with hydroxyl radicals. The conclusion drawn from a time-resolved plume study that aromatic molecules decay much faster than could be accounted for solely by reaction with hydroxyl radicals was not verified; this indicates a difference between laboratory study and the study in the real atmosphere, and some physical factors besides chemical mechanism might take a more significant role in removing aromatics faster from the atmosphere.


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