Heterogeneous Oxidation of Catechol

Elizabeth A Pillar-Little, Ruixin Zhou, Marcelo I Guzman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Natural and anthropogenic emissions of aromatic hydrocarbons from biomass burning, agro-industrial settings, and fossil fuel combustion contribute precursors to secondary aerosol formation (SOA). How these compounds are processed under humid tropospheric conditions is the focus of current attention to understand their environmental fate. This work shows how catechol thin films, a model for oxygenated aromatic hydrocarbons present in biomass burning and combustion aerosols, undergo heterogeneous oxidation at the air-solid interface under variable relative humidity (RH = 0-90%). The maximum reactive uptake coefficient of O3(g) by catechol γO3 = (7.49 ± 0.35) × 10(-6) occurs for 90% RH. Upon exposure of ca. 104-μm thick catechol films to O3(g) mixing ratios between 230 ppbv and 25 ppmv, three main reaction pathways are observed. (1) The cleavage of the 1,2 carbon-carbon bond at the air-solid interface resulting in the formation of cis,cis-muconic acid via primary ozonide and hydroperoxide intermediates. Further direct ozonolysis of cis,cis-muconic yields glyoxylic, oxalic, crotonic, and maleic acids. (2) A second pathway is evidenced by the presence of Baeyer-Villiger oxidation products including glutaconic 4-hydroxy-2-butenoic and 5-oxo-2-pentenoic acids during electrospray ionization mass spectrometry (MS) and ion chromatography MS analyses. (3) Finally, indirect oxidation by in situ produced hydroxyl radical (HO(•)) results in the generation of semiquinone radical intermediates toward the synthesis of polyhydoxylated aromatic rings such as tri-, tetra-, and penta-hydroxybenzene. Remarkably, heavier polyhydroxylated biphenyl and terphenyl products present in the extracted oxidized films result from coupling reactions of semiquinones of catechol and its polyhydroxylated rings. The direct ozonolysis of 1,2,3- and 1,2,4-trihydroxybenezene yields 2- and 3-hydroxy-cis,cis-muconic acid, respectively. The production of 2,4- or 3,4-dihdroxyhex-2-enedioic acid is proposed to result from the sequential processing of cis,cis-muconic acid, 2- and 3-hydroxy-cis,cis-muconic acid. Overall, these reactions contribute precursors to form aqueous SOA from aromatics in atmospheric aerosols and brown clouds.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)10349-59
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Physical Chemistry A
Issue number41
StatePublished - Oct 15 2015


Dive into the research topics of 'Heterogeneous Oxidation of Catechol'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this