Atmospheric Chemical Kinetics

People everywhere are concerned about global warming, stratospheric ozone depletion and ozone production in the lower atmosphere. Accurate assessment of the effects of pollutants on the phenomena is needed. Because of the complexity of atmospheric processes, prediction of atmospheric conditions is made by construction of mathematical models. Reaction rate data used in the models is not always accurate or even available and estimates have to be made. Because of the magnitude of economics and health factors involved, it is imperative that accurate values of rates of chemical reactions in the atmosphere be known in order to improve the validity of atmospheric models.

The objective of this research is to measure the rate constants of nine pentanes with hydroxyl radical over the range +200C to -70C. Reaction with hydroxyl radicals is the first step in degradation and removal of pollutants from the atmosphere. Pentanes were chosen because of their importance as greenhouse gases, refrigerants, foaming agents and lower-atmosphere ozone formers. Accurate data will extend knowledge of the properties of gaseous pollutants arising from natural, urban, and industrial sources. Activation energies and pre-exponential factors will be calculated from the rate data, a stringent assessment and refinement of predictive rules of hydroxyl radical reaction rate constants can be made, including nuances due to chain branching and methylene group addition. Low temperature results will test the accuracy of absolute reaction rates of similar substances measured at these temperatures.

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