Heterogeneous Chemistry of Mercuric Chloride on Inorganic Salt Surfaces

Na Mao, John Antley, Matthew Cooper, Neil Shah, Anuradha Kadam, Alexei Khalizov

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3 Scopus citations


Gaseous oxidized mercury (GOM) is a major chemical form responsible for deposition of atmospheric mercury, but its interaction with environmental surfaces is not well understood. To address this knowledge gap, we investigated the uptake of gaseous HgCl2, used as a GOM surrogate, by several inorganic salts representative of marine and urban aerosols. The process was studied in a fast flow reactor coupled to an ion drift-chemical ionization mass spectrometer, where gaseous HgCl2 was quantitatively detected as HgCl2·NO3-. Uptake curves showed a common behavior, where upon exposure of the salt surface to HgCl2, the gas-phase concentration of the latter dropped rapidly and then recovered gradually. None of the salts produced a full recovery of HgCl2, indicating the presence of an irreversible chemical reaction in addition to reversible adsorption, and all salts showed reactive behavior consistent with the presence of surface sites of a high and a low reactivity. On the basis of the decrease in the uptake coefficient with increasing concentration of gaseous HgCl2, we conclude that the interaction follows the Langmuir-Hinshelwood mechanism. The reactivity of a deactivated salt surface after uptake could be partially restored by cycling through an elevated relative humidity at atmospheric pressure. The overall surface reactivity decreased in the series Na2SO4 > NaCl > (NH4)2SO4 > NH4NO3. The uptake on NH4NO3 was nearly fully reversible, with low values of the initial (0.4 × 10-2) and steady-state (3.3 × 10-4) uptake coefficients, whereas Na2SO4 was significantly more reactive (3.1 × 10-2 and 1.7 × 10-3). Depending on the aerosol loading, the lifetimes of gaseous HgCl2 on dry urban and marine particles (as pure (NH4)2SO4 and NaCl, respectively) were estimated to range from half an hour to about a day.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3943-3952
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Physical Chemistry A
Issue number18
StatePublished - May 13 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry


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