[Northway2004] "Evaluation of the role of heterogeneous oxidation of alkenes in the detection of atmospheric acetaldehyde",
, vol. 38, no. 35: Elsevier, pp. 6017–6028, 2004.
Unexpectedly high values for acetaldehyde have been observed in airborne measurements using a proton-transfer-reaction mass spectrometry instrument. The acetaldehyde values increase with increasing ambient ozone levels with a ratio up to 5 pptv acetaldehyde per ppbv of ozone in the free troposphere. The elevated values of acetaldehyde cannot easily be explained from known tropospheric chemistry. Here, we investigate the possibility that the elevated acetaldehyde signals are due to a sampling artifact. Laboratory experiments show that the elevated signals are not due to changes of the ion chemistry in the instrument, or from the instrument materials reacting with ozone. The heterogeneous oxidation of a number of unsaturated organic compounds is investigated as a possible source for a chemical artifact produced in the instrument inlet. The products of the heterogeneous reactions are consistent with gas phase chemistry, and the ozonolysis of some alkenes does produce acetaldehyde when they have the appropriate hydrocarbon structure. The amount of reactive material in the free troposphere expected to accumulate in the aircraft inlet is unknown, and the exact origin of reactive compounds that contribute to the artifact production remains unresolved.