Coupled partitioning, dilution, and chemical aging of semivolatile organics

Environ Sci Technol. 2006 Apr 15;40(8):2635-43. doi: 10.1021/es052297c.


A unified framework of semi-volatile partitioning permits models to efficiently treat both semi-volatile primary emissions and secondary organic aerosol production (SOA), and then to treat the chemical evolution (aging) of the aggregate distribution of semi-volatile material. This framework also reveals critical deficiencies in current emissions and SOA formation measurements. The key feature of this treatment is a uniform basis set of saturation vapor pressures spanning the range of ambient organic saturation concentrations, from effectively nonvolatile material at 0.01 microg m(-3) to vapor-phase effluents at 100 mg m(-3). Chemical evolution can be treated by a transformation matrix coupling the various basis vectors. Using this framework, we show that semi-volatile partitioning can be described in a self-consistent way, with realistic behavior with respect to temperature and varying organic aerosol loading. The time evolution strongly suggests that neglected oxidation of numerous "intermediate volatility" vapors (IVOCs, with saturation concentrations above approximately 1 mg m(-3)) may contribute significantly to ambient SOA formation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Aerosols
  • Air Pollutants
  • Models, Chemical
  • Organic Chemicals / chemistry*
  • Oxidation-Reduction
  • Temperature
  • Volatilization


  • Aerosols
  • Air Pollutants
  • Organic Chemicals