Nighttime Measurements of Dinitrogen Pentoxide and the Nitrate Radical via Cavity Ring-Down Spectroscopy
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Development of effective pollution control strategies for urban areas requires accurate predictive models. The ability of models to correctly characterize the atmospheric chemistry, meteorology, and deposition rely on accurate data measurements, both as input and verification of output. Therefore, the measurement techniques must be sensitive, accurate, and capable of resolving the spatial and temporal variations of key chemical species. The application of a sensitive in situ optical absorption technique, known as cavity ring-down spectroscopy, will be introduced for simultaneously measuring the nitrate radical and dinitrogen pentoxide. The cavity ring-down spectrometer was initially designed and constructed based on the experiments by Steven Brown and Akkihebal Ravishankara at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The instrument design has since undergone many revisions before attaining the current instrumentation system. Laboratory observations provide verification of accurate N2O5 and NO3 detection with measurements of the nitrate radical absorption spectrum centered at 662 nm, effective chemical zeroing with nitric oxide, and efficient thermal decomposition of N2O5. Field observations at a local park provided further confirmation of the instruments capability in measuring N2O5 and NO3. However, detection limits were too high to detect ambient NO3. Effective and frequent zeroing can easily improve upon the sensitivity of the instrument. Determination of the source of the polluted air masses detected during these studies was unknown since the typical southerly winds from Houston were not observed. Since deployment in the field, instrumentation modifications and laboratory measurements are underway for preparation of the SOOT campaign in Houston, Texas starting April 15, 2009. Current modifications include automation of the titration with a solenoid valve and an automated filter changer. Wall losses and filter transmission for NO3 and N2O5 will be determined through laboratory measurements in coincidence with and ion-drift chemical ionization mass spectrometer prior to the SOOT project. Potential modifications to improve upon the instrument are suggested for future endeavors.
Perkins, Katie C. (2009). Nighttime Measurements of Dinitrogen Pentoxide and the Nitrate Radical via Cavity Ring-Down Spectroscopy. Doctoral dissertation, Texas A&M University. Available electronically from