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Title: Evaluating the uncertainties of thermal catalytic conversion in measuring atmospheric nitrogen dioxide at four differently polluted sites in China
Authors: Xu, Z
Wang, T 
Xue, LK
Louie, PKK
Luk, CWY
Gao, J
Wang, SL
Chai, FH
Wang, WX
Keywords: Air-parcel age
Molybdenum oxide converter
Nitrogen dioxide
Photolytic converter
Issue Date: 2013
Publisher: Pergamon Press
Source: Atmospheric environment, 2013, v. 76, p. 221-226 How to cite?
Journal: Atmospheric environment 
Abstract: A widely used method for measuring nitrogen dioxide (NO2) in the atmosphere is the conversion of NO2 to nitric oxide (NO) on the hot surface of a molybdenum oxide (MoO) catalyst followed by the chemiluminescence detection of NO. Although it has long been recognized that this type of conversion may suffer from the positive interference of other oxidized nitrogen compounds, evaluations of such interference in the atmosphere are scarce, thus rendering it difficult to make use of a large portion of the NO2 or NOx data obtained via this method (often denoted as NO2* or NOx*). In the present study, we compared the MoO converter with a selective, more accurate photolytic approach at four differently polluted sites in China. The converter worked well at the urban site, which was greatly affected by fresh emissions, but, on average, overestimated NO2 by 30%-50% at the two suburban sites and by more than 130% at the mountain-top site during afternoon hours, with a much larger positive bias seen during the top 10% of ozone events. The degree of overestimation depended on both air-parcel age and the composition of the oxidation products/intermediates of NOx (NOz). We attempted to derive an empirical formula to correct for this overestimation using concurrently measured O3, NO, and NO2* at the two suburban sites. Although the formula worked well at each individual site, the different NOz partitions at the sites made it difficult to obtain a universal formula. In view of the difficulty of assessing the uncertainties of the conventional conversion method, thus limiting the usability of data obtained via this method in atmospheric research, we suggest that, in areas away from fresh NOx emission sources, either a more selective NO2 measurement method or a NOy (NOx and its reaction products and intermediates) instrument should be adopted.
ISSN: 1352-2310
EISSN: 1873-2844
DOI: 10.1016/j.atmosenv.2012.09.043
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