U.S. Department of Energy Office of Biological and Environmental Research

BER Research Highlights

Modeling Kinetics and Partitioning of Secondary Organic Aerosols
Published: May 27, 2014
Posted: August 20, 2014

The general processes important to formation of secondary organic aerosols (SOA; small particles resulting from reactions of gas-phase organic precursors) are conceptually clear, including reactions of organic compounds in the gas phase and within or on particle surfaces, and evaporation/condensation/solution in liquid and semiliquid particle phases. However, organic mass partitioning between the gas phase and particles of different sizes depends on the complex interplay between these mechanisms, resulting in a range of SOA size distributions and chemical composition that together determine overall aerosol optical and cloud-nucleating properties. To improve modeling fidelity for SOA impacts, U.S. Department of Energy researchers developed and evaluated a new framework for modeling kinetic SOA gas-particle partitioning. This framework and analysis accounted for diffusion and chemical reaction within the particle phase. The framework is suitable for use in regional and global atmospheric models, despite requiring specification of the actual species and particle-phase reactions important for SOA formation. The investigators implemented the new framework within the computationally efficient Model for Simulating Aerosol Interactions and Chemistry (MOSAIC) and applied it to investigate the competitive growth dynamics of submicrometer particles. A proper representation of SOA physicochemical processes and parameters is needed in next-generation models to reliably predict not only total SOA mass, but also its composition and number size distribution, all of which together determine overall SOA optical and cloud-nucleating properties.

Reference: Zaveri, R. A., R. C. Easter, J. E. Shilling, and J. H. Seinfeld. 2014. “Modeling Kinetic Partitioning of Secondary Organic Aerosol and Size Distribution Dynamics: Representing Effects of Volatility, Phase State, and Particle-Phase Reaction,” Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics 14, 5153–81. DOI:10.5194/acp-14-5153-2014. (Reference link)

Contact: Sally McFarlane, SC-23.1, (301) 903-0943, Ashley Williamson, SC-23.1, (301) 903-3120
Topic Areas:

  • Research Area: Earth and Environmental Systems Modeling
  • Research Area: Atmospheric System Research

Division: SC-23.1 Climate and Environmental Sciences Division, BER


BER supports basic research and scientific user facilities to advance DOE missions in energy and environment. More about BER

Recent Highlights

Aug 24, 2019
New Approach for Studying How Microbes Influence Their Environment
A diverse group of scientists suggests a common framework and targeting of known microbial processes [more...]

Aug 08, 2019
Nutrient-Hungry Peatland Microbes Reduce Carbon Loss Under Warmer Conditions
Enzyme production in peatlands reduces carbon lost to respiration under future high temperatures. [more...]

Aug 05, 2019
Amazon Forest Response to CO2 Fertilization Dependent on Plant Phosphorus Acquisition
AmazonFACE Model Intercomparison. The Science Plant growth is dependent on the availabi [more...]

Jul 29, 2019
A Slippery Slope: Soil Carbon Destabilization
Carbon gain or loss depends on the balance between competing biological, chemical, and physical reac [more...]

Jul 15, 2019
Field Evaluation of Gas Analyzers for Measuring Ecosystem Fluxes
How gas analyzer type and correction method impact measured fluxes. The Science A side- [more...]

List all highlights (possible long download time)