Environment of Earth

September 13, 2009

HYDROXYL AND HYDROPEROXY RADICALS AND PHOTOCHEMICAL REACTIONS IN ATMOSPHERIC DROPLETS


Presence of water and enough light in the clouds may result in the formation of hydroxy and hydroperoxy radicals there. These radicals shall be scavanged by cloud droplets and then could promote a variety of reactions in the droplets.


1. OXIDATION REACTIONS INVOLVING HYDROXY RADICAL

(a) Oxidation of inorganic species such as ammonia:

NH3(aq) + OH(aq) —— NH2(aq) + H2O

NH2(aq) + O2(aq) —– NH2O2(aq)

NH2O2(aq) + OH(aq) —— HNO2(aq) + H2O

(b) Oxidation of nitrogen oxides:

NO-2(aq) + OH(aq) —- NO2(aq) + OH-(aq)

NO(aq) + OH(aq) —— HNO2(aq)

NO2(aq) + OH(aq) —— HNO3(aq)

(c) Oxidation of sulfur compounds:

H2S(aq) + OH(aq) —— HS(aq) + H2O

2. REACTIONS INVOLVING HYDROPEROXY RADICAL

Scavenged HO2 radicals have a longer lifetime than OH radicals in the water droplets, so they may be at much higher concentrations there and, therefore, could be important in reactions such as:

(a) Oxidation of SO32-

HO2(aq) + SO2-3(aq) —— SO2-4(aq) + OH(aq)

(b) Generation of Hydrogen peroxide:

HO2(aq) —— H+(aq) + O-2(aq)

O-2(aq) + HO2(aq) —– HO-2(aq) + O2(aq)

H+(aq) + HO-2(aq) —– H2O2(aq)


3. OXIDATION OF NATURALLY OCCURRING ALDEHYDES AND ALCOHOLS

The possibility of radical chemistry opens up a whole range of organic reaction chemistry also, in particular the oxidation of naturally occurring alcohols and aldehydes e.g.

CH3OH(aq) –oxidant—- HCHO(aq) + H2O

HCHO(aq) + H2O ——- H2C(OH)2(aq)

H2C(OH)2(aq) + OH(aq) ——- HC(OH)2(aq) + H2O

HC(OH)2(aq) + O2(aq) ——- HO2(aq) + HCOOH(aq)

Formic acid, acetic acid and oxalic acid have been detected in the rainwater and point to the possibility of detection of a wide range of dissolved organic substances. These may indicate a complex radical-initiated chemistry that has an important effect on the acidification of rainwater.

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