The Contribution of Chlorine Radicals to Tropospheric Ozone Formation in Southeastern Texas

EPA Grant Number: U915887
Title: The Contribution of Chlorine Radicals to Tropospheric Ozone Formation in Southeastern Texas
Investigators: Tanaka, Paul L.
Institution: The University of Texas at Austin
EPA Project Officer: Michaud, Jayne
Project Period: January 1, 2001 through May 1, 2003
Project Amount: $82,410
RFA: STAR Graduate Fellowships (2001) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: Academic Fellowships , Air Quality and Air Toxics , Fellowship - Atmospheric Sciences


Ground-level ozone is produced by well-understood reactions between volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and hydroxyl radicals in the presence of nitrogen oxides (NOx). It has been suggested that chlorine radicals (Cl·) also could contribute to ground-level ozone formation. Previous experiments involving purified air supported this hypothesis. However, experimental verification of this phenomenon in ambient air had never been observed. The objective of this research project is to investigate the ability of Cl· to enhance ground-level ozone formation under the following conditions: (1) the release of Cl· precursor into captive ambient air; (2) the release of Cl· simultaneously with other ozone precursors (i.e., VOCs and NOx) into captive ambient air; and (3) the release of Cl· into captive aged air masses. These conditions were chosen to simulate conditions that the Cl· precursor would encounter near colocated sources of VOC and NOx.


To assess the regional impact of chlorine radicals on ozone formation in Houston, TX, the Carbon Bond IV chemical mechanism was modified to include 13 reactions involving chlorine radicals. The reactions included the photolysis of Cl· precursors, reactions between Cl· and VOCs, and reactions between ozone and Cl·. The VOC reactions include the reactions of Cl· with isoprene and 1,3-butadiene that yield unique reaction products (i.e., marker species). This modified chemical mechanism then was employed within a numerical model that accounted for chemical as well as physical processes (regional photochemical model). The Comprehensive Air Quality Model with Extensions was used to predict the impact of chlorine radicals on regional ozone formation in and around Houston, TX.

When the modified chemical mechanism (that included chlorine-radical reactions) was employed, ozone levels were enhanced by up to 16 ppb in the Houston area, with the greatest enhancement predicted for the morning hours after sunrise. Methane may be activated by chlorine radicals to contribute significantly to the predicted ozone enhancement in the Houston area. Such behavior suggests that the impact of chlorine radicals would be proportional to the availability of Cl· precursor. The addition of chlorine resulted in the rapid enhancement of ozone formation (most significantly [>75 ppb/hour] during morning hours when photochemical reactivity is otherwise low). In urban areas with anthropogenic sources of Cl· precursors, Cl· reactions may need to be considered to more accurately predict ozone formation.

Supplemental Keywords:

fellowship, chlorine, chlorine radical, volatile organic compounds, VOCs, nitrogen oxide, NOx, air pollution, ozone, Texas, TX., RFA, Scientific Discipline, Air, Geographic Area, State, Environmental Monitoring, Atmospheric Sciences, tropospheric ozone, nitrous oxide, ambient ozone data, VOCs, air quality model, Texas (TX), atmospheric monitoring

Progress and Final Reports:

  • 2001
  • 2002
  • Final