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A study of the origin of atmospheric organic aerosols


Hildemann, Lynn Mary (1990) A study of the origin of atmospheric organic aerosols. Dissertation (Ph.D.), California Institute of Technology. doi:10.7907/XFQA-MH78.


The sources of ambient organic particulate matter in urban areas are investigated through a program of emission source measurements, atmospheric measurements, and mathematical modeling of source/receptor relationships. A dilution sampler intended to collect fine organic aerosol from combustion sources is designed to simulate atmospheric cooling and dilution processes, so that organic vapors which condense under ambient conditions will be collected as particulate matter. This system is used to measure the emissions from a boiler burning distillate oil, a home fireplace, catalyst and noncatalyst automobiles, heavy-duty diesel trucks, natural gas home appliances, and meat cooking operations. Alternate techniques are used to sample the particulate matter emitted from cigarette smoking, a roofing tar pot, paved road dust, brake lining wear, tire wear, and vegetative detritus. The bulk chemical characteristics of the fine aerosol fraction are presented for each source. Over half of the fine aerosol mass emitted from automobiles, wood burning, meat cooking, home appliances, cigarettes, and tar pots is shown to consist of organic compounds. The organic material collected from these sources is analyzed using high-resolution gas chromatography. Using a simple analytical protocol, a quantitative, 50-parameter characterization of the elutable fine organic aerosol emitted from each source type is obtained, which proves to be a unique fingerprint that can be used to distinguish most sources from each other. A mathematical model is used to predict the characteristics of fine ambient organic aerosol in the Los Angeles area that would prevail if the primary organic emissions are transported without chemical reaction. The model is found to track the seasonal variations observed in the ambient aerosol at the three sites studied. Emissions from vehicles and fireplaces are identified as significant sources of solvent-extractable organic aerosol. Differences between the model predictions and ambient concentrations that could be due to atmospheric chemical reaction are discussed. An upper limit on the amount of secondary organic aerosol present is estimated based on the difference between the acidic organic aerosol present in ambient samples versus that due to primary emissions as computed by the model. Finally, several hypotheses concerning the origin of the acidic organic aerosol are proposed.

Item Type:Thesis (Dissertation (Ph.D.))
Subject Keywords:Environmental Science and Engineering
Degree Grantor:California Institute of Technology
Division:Engineering and Applied Science
Major Option:Environmental Science and Engineering
Thesis Availability:Public (worldwide access)
Thesis Committee:
  • Cass, Glen Rowan (chair)
Defense Date:29 September 1989
Record Number:CaltechETD:etd-05222007-143006
Persistent URL:
Default Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:1957
Deposited By: Imported from ETD-db
Deposited On:24 May 2007
Last Modified:21 Dec 2019 04:38

Thesis Files

PDF (Hildemann_lm_1990.pdf) - Final Version
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