Detailed heterogeneous oxidation of soot surfaces in a particle-resolved aerosol model

J. C. Kaiser, N. Riemer, D. A. Knopf

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Using the particle-resolved aerosol model PartMC-MOSAIC, we simulate the heterogeneous oxidation of a monolayer of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) on soot particles in an urban atmosphere. We focus on the interaction of the major atmospheric oxidants (O3, NO2, OH, and NO 3) with PAHs and include competitive co-adsorption of water vapour for a range of atmospheric conditions. For the first time detailed heterogeneous chemistry based on the P-schl-Rudich-Ammann (PRA) framework is modelled on soot particles with a realistic size distribution and a continuous range of chemical ages. We find PAHs half-lives, τ, on the order of seconds during the night, when the PAHs are rapidly oxidised by the gas-surface reaction with NO 3. During the day, τ is on the order of minutes and determined mostly by the surface layer reaction of PAHs with adsorbed O3. Such short half-lives of surface-bound PAHs may lead to efficient conversion of hydrophobic soot into more hygroscopic particles, thus increasing the particles' aerosol-cloud interaction potential. Despite its high reactivity OH appears to have a negligible effect on PAH degradation which can be explained by its very low concentration in the atmosphere. An increase of relative humidity (RH) from 30 % to 80 % increases PAH half-lives by up to 50 % for daytime degradation and by up to 100 % or more for nighttime degradation. Uptake coefficients, averaged over the particle population, are found to be relatively constant over time for O3 (∼2 × 107 to 2 × 106) and NO2 (∼5 × 106 to ∼105) at the different levels of NOx emissions and RH considered in this study. In contrast, those for OH and NO3 depend strongly on the surface concentration of PAHs. We do not find a significant influence of heterogeneous reactions on soot particles on the gas phase composition. The derived half-lives of surface-bound PAHs and the time and particle population averaged uptake coefficients for O3 and NO2 presented in this paper can be used as parameterisations for the treatment of heterogeneous chemistry in large-scale atmospheric chemistry models.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4505-4520
Number of pages16
JournalAtmospheric Chemistry and Physics
Issue number9
StatePublished - 2011

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Atmospheric Science


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