08 Nov 2023
 | 08 Nov 2023

Quantifying primary oxidation products in the OH-initiated reaction of benzyl alcohol

Reina S. Buenconsejo, Sophia M. Charan, John H. Seinfeld, and Paul O. Wennberg

Abstract. Benzyl alcohol is a compound that is found in many volatile chemical products (VCPs) that are primarily used in personal care products and as industrial solvents. While past work has empirically identified oxidation products, we do not understand explicit branching ratios for first-generation benzyl alcohol oxidation products, particularly over a range of [NO] conditions. Using gas chromatography (GC) in tandem with chemical ionization mass spectrometry (CIMS), we measure the branching ratios of major oxidation products, namely hydroxybenzyl alcohol (HBA) and benzaldehyde. Later-generation oxidation products from both HBA and benzaldehyde pathways are also observed. We find the H-abstraction route leading to benzaldehyde formation unaffected by [NO], with a branching ratio of ~19 %. The OH addition route, however, which leads to HBA formation, does vary with [NO]. At higher [NO], we report a branching ratio for HBA of ~45–47 % and as high as ~69 % at low [NO]. We also find that HBA has a high secondary organic aerosol (SOA) yield, for the reaction times in this study, approaching unity. HBA, therefore, likely contributes to the high SOA yield of benzyl alcohol which under some conditions can also approach unity. Insights from the present study can help elucidate the chemistry of other atmospherically-relevant aromatic compounds, especially those found in VCPs.

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Reina S. Buenconsejo, Sophia M. Charan, John H. Seinfeld, and Paul O. Wennberg

Status: final response (author comments only)

Comment types: AC – author | RC – referee | CC – community | EC – editor | CEC – chief editor | : Report abuse
  • RC1: 'Comment on egusphere-2023-2483', Anonymous Referee #1, 22 Nov 2023
  • RC2: 'Comment on egusphere-2023-2483', Anonymous Referee #2, 27 Nov 2023
Reina S. Buenconsejo, Sophia M. Charan, John H. Seinfeld, and Paul O. Wennberg
Reina S. Buenconsejo, Sophia M. Charan, John H. Seinfeld, and Paul O. Wennberg


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Short summary
We look at the atmospheric chemistry of a volatile chemical product (VCP), benzyl alcohol. Benzyl alcohol and other VCPs may play a significant role in the formation of urban smog. By better understanding the chemistry of VCPs like benzyl alcohol, we may better understand observed data and how VCPs affect air quality. We identify products formed from benzyl alcohol chemistry and use this chemistry to understand how benzyl alcohol forms a key component of smog, secondary organic aerosol.