Project No: 16213222

Title: Investigating sources of nitrogenous organic aerosols

Principal Investigator: Prof. Jianzhen YU

Co-Investigator: Dr. Cheng HUANG


Atmospheric aerosol plays an active role in affecting climate, ecosystem, and air quality. Organic aerosol (OA) makes up a significant fraction of submicron particles in the atmosphere. OA has constituent elements (e.g., N and O) other than carbon. Past studies have overwhelmingly focused on the carbonaceous part of OA while neglecting other constituent elements. Recently we have made a method breakthrough in creating an instrument that is capable of quantifying bulk organic nitrogen (ON) in aerosol samples. This opens paths for characterizing OA from an angle vastly different from the past carbon-centered studies. In this project, we propose to investigate sources of nitrogenous organic aerosols, as information about major sources is fundamental to further developing a detailed roadmap in targeted chemical speciation of OA and characterization of OA properties and environmental consequences. The source investigation will be realized through receptor modeling of collocated online measurements of aerosol ON, organic carbon, source-indicative molecular markers, and elemental tracers in urban and suburban environments. The field measurements will be conducted in two air quality research supersites that are equipped with a comprehensive range of state-of-art instruments, including our newly developed Aerosol Nitrogen Analyzer, an aerosol carbon analyzer, a Thermal desorption Aerosol Gas-chromatography-mass spectrometer (TAG), an Aerosol Mass Spectrometer, for online measurements of various aerosol components and other related air pollutants. The wealth of supplementary chemical measurements provides a strong basis for extracting quantitative source information for nitrogenous organic aerosol. The project will produce quantitative source information for major contributing sources to nitrogenous organic aerosols in one urban and one suburban atmospheric environment.