Development of an Ion Mobility Chemical Ionization Mass Spectrometer (IMS-CIMS) for the In-Situ Analysis of Secondary Organic Aerosol

EPA Grant Number: F13B10163
Title: Development of an Ion Mobility Chemical Ionization Mass Spectrometer (IMS-CIMS) for the In-Situ Analysis of Secondary Organic Aerosol
Investigators: Krechmer, Jordan Edward
Institution: University of Colorado at Boulder
EPA Project Officer: Lee, Sonja
Project Period: September 1, 2014 through September 1, 2016
Project Amount: $84,000
RFA: STAR Graduate Fellowships (2013) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: Academic Fellowships , Fellowship - Atmospheric Chemistry


This work aims to develop instrumentation to quantify extremely low volatility organic compounds (ELVOCs) produced by the oxidation of biogenic emissions. This is an important first step to determine the contribution of these ELVOCs to the mass of secondary organic aerosol formed in heavily forested environments.


To quantify ELVOCs, this research will develop and characterize a novel mass spectrometer that utilizes a nitrate ionization source and an ion mobility component. The nitrate ion selectively clusters with extremely oxidized organics, enabling the detection of ELVOCs in ambient air with extremely high sensitivity. This instrument will then be deployed in the field in the Southeastern United States and at selective atmospheric smog chambers to explore these chemical systems. Data analysis will then identify and quantify these oxidized species and determine how mu

Expected Results:

It is expected that ELVOCs play a role in the production of organic aerosol in areas with large amounts of vegetation. The exact size of this role is critical, however, and will depend on the type and quantity of biogenic emissions, as well as weather conditions and levels of anthropogenic pollution. Results from this research will help identify specific markers of different types of chemistry and aerosol. These results could help explain the observed gap between measured secondary organic aerosol and the amount predicted from aerosol computer models.

Potential to Further Environmental/Human Health Protection

The development and use of this unique instrumentation will improve understanding of the composition of both anthropogenic pollution and natural emissions. It also will enhance knowledge of how that pollution changes over time in “clean” environments. Due to effective pollution controls over the last several decades, this “clean” regime is becoming more common and understanding its characteristics will become more important as more Americans live in similar environments.

Supplemental Keywords:

air pollution, biological pollutants, organic aerosol

Progress and Final Reports:

  • 2015
  • Final