Journal of Atmospheric Chemistry

, Volume 25, Issue 3, pp 229–250 | Cite as

The heterogeneous formation of N2O over bulk condensed phases in the presence of SO2 at high humidities

  • M. Pires
  • H. Van den Bergh
  • M. J. Rossi


In view of the uncertainty of the origin of the secular increase of N2O, we studied heterogeneous processes that contribute to formation of N2O in an environment that comes as close as possible to exhaust conditions containing NO and SO2, among other constituents. The N2O formation was followed using electron capture gas chromatography (ECD-GC). The other reactants and intermediates (SO2, NO, NO2 and HONO) were monitored using gas phase UV-VIS absorption spectroscopy. Experiments were conducted at 298 and 368 K as well as at dry and high humidity (approaching 100% rh) conditions. There is a significant heterogeneous rate of N2O formation at conditions that mimic an exhaust plume from combustion processes.The simultaneous presence of NO, SO2, O2 in the gas phase and condensed phase water, either in the bulk liquid or adsorbed state has been confirmed to be necessary for the production of significant levels of N2O. The stoichiometry of the overall reaction is: 2 NO+SO2+H2O → N2O+H2SO4. The maximum rate of N2O formation occurred at the beginning of the reaction and scales with the surface area of the condensed phase and is independent of its volume. A significant rate of N2O formation at 368 K at 100% rh was also observed in the absence of a bulk substrate. The diffusion of both gas and liquid phase reactants is not rate limiting as the reaction kenetics is dominated by the rate ofN2O formation under the experimental conditions used in this work. The simultaneous presence of high humidity (90–100% rh at 368 K) and bulk condensed phase results in the maximum rate and final yield of N2O approaching 60% and 100% conversion after one hour in the presence of amorphous carbon and fly-ash, respectively.

Key words

N2O formation heterogeneous reactions synthetic exhaust/flue gas soot fly-ash calcite sulfuric acid solutions high relative humidities 


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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1996

Authors and Affiliations

  • M. Pires
    • 1
  • H. Van den Bergh
    • 1
  • M. J. Rossi
    • 1
  1. 1.Laboratoire de Pollution Atmosphérique et Sol (LPAS)Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL)LausanneSwitzerland

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