Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Airborne pollutants: New view of how water and sulfur dioxide mix

Date:
May 10, 2011
Source:
University of Oregon
Summary:
High in the sky, water in clouds can act as a temptress to lure airborne pollutants such as sulfur dioxide into reactive aqueous particulates. Although this behavior is not incorporated into today's climate-modeling scenarios, emerging research provides evidence that it should be.

Stephanie T. Ota, a doctoral student at the University of Oregon, has completed experiments that show how surface water molecules, such as those on clouds, interact with sulfur dioxide at cool high-atmospheric temperatures.
Credit: University of Oregon

High in the sky, water in clouds can act as a temptress to lure airborne pollutants such as sulfur dioxide into reactive aqueous particulates. Although this behavior is not incorporated into today's climate-modeling scenarios, emerging research from the University of Oregon provides evidence that it should be.

The role of sulfur dioxide -- a pollutant of volcanic gasses and many combustion processes -- in acid rain is well known, but how sulfur dioxide reacts at the surface of aqueous particulates in the atmosphere to form acid rain is far from understood.

In National Science Foundation-funded laboratory experiments at the UO, chemistry doctoral student Stephanie T. Ota examined the behavior of sulfur dioxide as it approaches and adsorbs onto water at low temperatures that mimic high-atmospheric conditions. Using a combination of short-pulsed infrared and visible laser beams, she monitored the interaction of sulfur dioxide with water as it is flowed over a water surface.

The results -- detailed online ahead of regular publication in the Journal of the American Chemical Society -- show that as sulfur dioxide molecules approach the surface of water, they are captured by the top-most surface water molecules, an effect that is enhanced at cold temperatures.

Although this reaching out, says co-author Geraldine L. Richmond, professor of chemistry, provides a doorway for sulfur dioxide to enter the water solution, the weak nature of the surface-bonding interaction doesn't guarantee that the water temptress will be successful.

"We have found that that the sulfur dioxide bonding to the surface is highly reversible and does not necessarily provide the open doorway that might be expected," Ota said. "For example, for highly acidic water, the sulfur dioxide approaches and bonds to the water surface but shows little interest in going any further into the bulk water."

The uptake of gases like sulfur dioxide has important implications in understanding airborne pollutants and their role in global warming and climate change. Sulfur dioxide that has come together with water, becoming aqueous, reflects light coming toward the planet, while carbon dioxide accumulating in the atmosphere traps heat onto the planet.

Understanding the interaction of surface water molecules, such as those in clouds and fog, with pollutants rising from human activity below may help scientists better predict potential chemical reactions occurring in the atmosphere and their impacts, said Richmond, who was elected May 3 as a member of the National Academy of Sciences.

"In the past we presumed that most chemistry in the atmosphere occurred when gas molecules collide and react," she said. "These studies are some of the first to provide molecular insights into what happens when an atmospherically important gas such as sulfur dioxide collides with a water surface, and the role that water plays in playing the temptress to foster reactivity."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Oregon. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Stephanie T. Ota, Geraldine L. Richmond. Chilling Out: A Cool Aqueous Environment Promotes the Formation of Gas–Surface Complexes. Journal of the American Chemical Society, 2011; 110426082204049 DOI: 10.1021/ja201027k

Cite This Page:

University of Oregon. "Airborne pollutants: New view of how water and sulfur dioxide mix." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 10 May 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/05/110509122735.htm>.
University of Oregon. (2011, May 10). Airborne pollutants: New view of how water and sulfur dioxide mix. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 17, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/05/110509122735.htm
University of Oregon. "Airborne pollutants: New view of how water and sulfur dioxide mix." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/05/110509122735.htm (accessed September 17, 2014).

Share This



More Matter & Energy News

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Space Race Pits Bezos Vs Musk

Space Race Pits Bezos Vs Musk

Reuters - Business Video Online (Sep. 16, 2014) Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos' startup will team up with Boeing and Lockheed to develop rocket engines as Elon Musk races to have his rockets certified. Fred Katayama reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
MIT's Robot Cheetah Unleashed — Can Now Run, Jump Freely

MIT's Robot Cheetah Unleashed — Can Now Run, Jump Freely

Newsy (Sep. 16, 2014) MIT developed a robot modeled after a cheetah. It can run up to speeds of 10 mph, though researchers estimate it will eventually reach 30 mph. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Manufacturer Prints 3-D Car In Record Time

Manufacturer Prints 3-D Car In Record Time

Newsy (Sep. 15, 2014) Automobile manufacturer Local Motors created a drivable electric car using a 3-D printer. Printing the body only took 44 hours. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Refurbished New York Subway Tunnel Unveiled After Sandy Damage

Refurbished New York Subway Tunnel Unveiled After Sandy Damage

Reuters - US Online Video (Sep. 15, 2014) New York officials unveil subway tunnels that were refurbished after Superstorm Sandy. Nathan Frandino reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

    Environment News

      Technology News



      Save/Print:
      Share:

      Free Subscriptions


      Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

      Get Social & Mobile


      Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

      Have Feedback?


      Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
      Mobile: iPhone Android Web
      Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
      Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
      Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins