The water cycles of water-soluble organic salts of atmospheric importance

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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1183-1192
Journal / PublicationAtmospheric Environment
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 2001
Externally publishedYes


In this study, the water cycles of nine water-soluble organic salts of atmospheric interest were studied using an electrodynamic balance (EDB) at 25°C. Sodium formate, sodium acetate, sodium succinate, sodium pyruvate and sodium methanesulfonate (Na-MSA) particles crystallize as the relative humidity (RH) decreases and they deliquesce as the RH increases. Sodium oxalate and ammonium oxalate form supersaturated particles at low RH before crystallization but they do not deliquesce even at RH=90%. Sodium malonate and sodium maleate particles neither crystallize nor deliquesce. These two salts absorb and evaporate water reversibly without hysteresis. In most cases, the solid states of single particles resulting from the crystallization of supersaturated droplets do not form the most thermodynamically stable state found in bulk studies. Sodium formate, sodium oxalate, ammonium oxalate, sodium succinate, sodium pyruvate and Na-MSA form anhydrous particles after crystallization. Sodium acetate forms particles with a water/salt molar ratio of 0.5 after crystallization. In salts with several hydrated states including sodium formate and sodium acetate, the particles deliquesce at the lowest deliquescence relative humidity (DRH) of the hydrates. Except sodium oxalate and ammonium oxalate, all the salts studied here are as hygroscopic as typical inorganic hygroscopic aerosols. The hygroscopic organic salts have a growth factor of 1.76-2.18 from RH=10-90%, comparable to that of typical hygroscopic inorganic salts such as NaCl and (NH4)2SO4. Further study of other atmospheric water-soluble organic compounds and their mixtures with inorganic salts is needed to explain the field observations of the hygroscopic growth of ambient aerosols. Copyright © 2001 Elsevier Science Ltd.

Research Area(s)

  • Aerosol thermodynamics, Crystallization, Deliquescence, Electrodynamic balance, Hygroscopic property, Water activity