1University of California, Riverside, Department of Chemical and Environmental Engineering, USA
2College of Engineering – Center for Environmental Research and Technology (CE-CERT), USA
3University of California, Riverside, Department of Chemistry, USA
4University of California, Riverside, Air Pollution Research Center, USA
Abstract. This study evaluates the significance of glyoxal acting as an intermediate species leading to SOA formation from aromatic hydrocarbon photooxidation under humid conditions. Rapid SOA formation from glyoxal uptake onto aqueous (NH4)2SO4 seed particles is observed; however, glyoxal did not partition to SOA or SOA coated aqueous seed during all aromatic hydrocarbon experiments (RH up to 80%). Glyoxal is found to only influence SOA formation by raising hydroxyl (OH) radical concentrations. Four experimental approaches supporting this conclusion are presented in this paper: (1) increased SOA formation and decreased SOA volatility in the toluene + NOx photooxidation system with additional glyoxal was reproduced by matching OH radical concentrations through H2O2 addition; (2) glyoxal addition to SOA seed formed from toluene + NOx photooxidation did not increase observed SOA volume; (3) SOA formation from toluene + NOx photooxidation with and without deliquesced (NH4)2SO4 seed resulted in similar SOA growth, consistent with a coating of SOA preventing glyoxal uptake onto deliquesced (NH4)2SO4 seed; and (4) the fraction of a C4H9+ fragment (observed by Aerodyne High Resolution Time-of-Flight Aerosol Mass Spectrometer, HR-ToF-AMS) from SOA formed by 2-tert-butylphenol (BP) oxidation was unchanged in the presence of additional glyoxal despite enhanced SOA formation. This study suggests that glyoxal uptake onto aerosol is minor when the surface (and near-surface) of aerosols are primarily composed of secondary organic compounds.