Gasoline vehicles are a major source of anthropogenic secondary organic aerosols (SOAs). However, current models based on known precursors fail to explain the substantial SOAs from vehicle emissions due to the inadequate understanding of the formation mechanism. To provide more information on this issue, the formation of SOAs from ozonolysis of four light-duty gasoline vehicle exhaust systems was investigated with a vacuum ultraviolet photoionization mass spectrometer (VUV-PIMS). Remarkable SOAs formation was observed and the SOAs were primarily aliphatic alkenes. PI mass spectra of the SOAs from all vehicles exhibited similar spectral patterns (a regular mass group with m/z at 98, 112, 126 …). Interestingly, most carbonyl products of aliphatic alkenes observed as major gaseous products have specific molecular weights, and the main formation pathway of SOAs can be explained well using aldol condensation reactions of these carbonyls. This is a direct observation of the aldol condensation as a dominated pathway for SOAs formation, and the first report on the composition and formation mechanism of the SOAs from the ozonolysis of gasoline vehicle exhaust is given. The study reveals that low molecular weight alkenes may play a more significant role in vehicle-induced SOAs formation than previously believed. More importantly, the PI mass spectra of SOAs from vehicles show similarities to the field aerosol sample mass spectra, suggesting the possible significance of the aldol condensation reactions in ambient aerosol formation. Since carbonyls are a major degradation product of biogenic and anthropogenic VOCs through atmospheric oxidation processes, the mechanism proposed in this study can be applied more generally to explain aerosol formation from the oxidation of atmospheric hydrocarbons.
Environmental Pollution – Elsevier
Published: Mar 1, 2018
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