• Ernesto Reyes Villegas

Student thesis: Phd


Atmospheric aerosols have been shown to have a significant impact on air quality and health in urban environments. Organic aerosols (OA) are one of the main constituents of submicron particulate matter. They are composed of thousands of different chemical species, which makes it challenging to identify and quantify their sources. OA sources have been previously studied; however quantitative knowledge of aerosol composition and their processes in urban environments is still limited. The results presented here investigate OA, their chemical composition and sources as well as their interaction with gases. On-line measurements of species in the particle and the gas phase were performed both from field-based and laboratory studies. Aerosol Mass Spectrometers (AMS) were used together with the Chemical Ionisation Mass Spectrometer (CIMS) and the Filter Inlet for Gases and AEROsols (FIGAERO). Two ambient datasets were analysed to develop methods for source apportionment, using the Multilinear Engine (ME-2), in order to gain new insights into aerosol sources in Manchester and London. Long-term measurements in London allowed the opportunity to perform seasonal analysis of OA sources and look into the relationship of hydrogen-like OA (HOA) and heavy- and light-duty diesel emissions. The seasonal analysis provided information about OA sources that was not possible to observe on the long-term analysis. During Bonfire Night in Manchester, with high aerosol concentrations, particularly biomass burning OA (BBOA), it was possible to identify particulate organic oxides of nitrogen (PON), with further identification of primary and secondary PON and their light absorbing properties. Through laboratory work, new insights into cooking organic aerosols (COA) were gained, a higher relative ion efficiency (RIEOA) value of around 3.3 for OA-AMS compared with the typical RIEOA of 1.4 was determined, which implies COA concentrations are overestimated when using the RIEOA value of 1.4. Dilution showed to have a significant effect on food cooking experiments, increasing both the gas/particle ratios and the O:C ratios. The data generated in this work, OA-AMS mass spectra and markers from both gas and particle phase identified with FIGAERO-CIMS, provide significant information that will contribute to the improvement of source apportionment in future studies. This work investigates OA, with a focus on primary organic aerosols originated from anthropogenic activities. These scientific findings increase our understanding of OA sources and can help to improve inventories and models as well as to develop plans and policies to mitigate the air pollution in urban environments.
Date of Award1 Aug 2018
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • The University of Manchester
SupervisorJames Allan (Supervisor) & Hugh Coe (Supervisor)


  • ME-2
  • PMF
  • Source apportionment
  • AMS
  • Organic aerosols
  • Air quality
  • Mass spectrometry

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