Date of Award


Document Type

Master's Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science in Chemistry (MS)

College, School or Department Name

Department of Chemistry


Lynn R. Mazzoleni


The aqueous phase processing of glyoxylic acid, pyruvic acid, oxalic acid and methylglyoxal was studied simulating dark and radical free atmospheric aqueous aerosol. A novel observation of the cleavage of a carbon-carbon bond in pyruvic acid and glyoxylic acid leading to their decarboxylation was made in the presence of ammonium salts but no decarboxylation was observed from oxalic acid. The empirical rate constants for decarboxylation were determined. The structure of the acid, ionic environment of solution and concentration of species found to affect the decarboxylation process. A tentative set of reaction mechanisms was proposed involving nucleophilic attack by ammonia on the carbonyl carbon leading to fragmentation of the carbon-carbon bond between the carbonyl and carboxyl carbons. Whereas, the formation of high molecular weight organic species was observed in the case of methylglyoxal. The elemental compositions of the species were determined. It was concluded that, additional pathways that are not currently known likely contribute to aqueous phase processing leading to high molecular weight organic species. Under similar conditions in atmospheric aerosol, the aqueous phase processing will markedly impact the physicochemical properties of aerosol.