NaCl aerosol particle hygroscopicity dependence on mixing with organic compounds

H. C. Hansson, M. J. Rood, S. Koloutsou-Vakakis, K. Hämeri, D. Orsini, A. Wiedensohler

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Organic compounds in the atmosphere can influence the activation, growth and lifetimes of haze, fog and cloud droplets by changing the condensation and evaporation rates of liquid water by these aqueous aerosol particles. Depending on the nature and properties of the organic compounds, the change can be to enhance or reduce these rates. In this paper we used a tandem differential mobility analyzer (TDMA) to examine the effect of tetracosane, octanoic acid, and lauric acid on the hygroscopic properties of NaCl aerosol particles at relative humidities (RH) between 30 and 95%. These organic compounds have been identified in ambient aerosol particle samples. A slight lowering of the deliquescence relative humidity (DRH) and suppression of hygroscopic growth for the NaCl-organic compound mixtures were observed when compared to pure NaCl particles. The growth of pure NaCl particles was 2.25 in diameter at 85% RH while the growth of the mixed particles was 1.3 to 1.7 in particle diameter at 85% RH with organic mass fraction of 30-50%. This shows that these organic compounds have to be present in rather large mass fractions to effect the hygroscopic behavior to a similar degree observed for ambient aerosol during field measurements. Despite the mixing of the organic material with NaCl, hysteresis was observed for decreasing RH histories, suggesting the formation of metastable droplets. These laboratory results are strikingly similar to ambient field results. For example, if the total organic mass fraction of the particles is between 0.30 and 0.50, the particle growth at 85% RH is about a factor of 1.4 for the laboratory and field measurements. Such reduction in growth compared to the pure inorganic salt is in contradiction to speculations concerning significant effects by organic compounds on cloud condensation nuclei and thus formation on clouds.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)321-346
Number of pages26
JournalJournal of Atmospheric Chemistry
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1998


  • Ambient aerosol
  • Hygroscopic properties
  • Lauric acid
  • NaCl
  • Octanoic acid
  • Tandem diffential mobility analyzer
  • Tetracosane

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Atmospheric Science


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