Eucalypt smoke and wildfires: Temperature dependent emissions of biogenic volatile organic compounds

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Ecology and Biodiversity
Fire Management
TitleEucalypt smoke and wildfires: Temperature dependent emissions of biogenic volatile organic compounds
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2009
AuthorsMaleknia, SD, Bell, T, Adams, MA
JournalInternational Journal of Mass Spectrometry
Pagination126 - 133
Date Published01/2009
AbstractEucalypt contributions to biogenic sources of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in Australia are estimated at teragram (Tg = 1012 g) amounts each year. Biogenic VOCs include plant-specific isoprenoids (isoprene and a range of terpenes) and other reactive organic compounds (i.e., acids, aldehydes and ketones). Atmospheric reactions of VOCs are numerous and many have significant environmental impact. Wildfires increase both the amounts of VOCs released and the complexity of their reactions. Proton-transfer reaction mass spectrometry (PTR-MS), gas chromatography mass spectrometry (GCMS) and direct analysis in real time (DART) mass spectrometry were applied to analyze release of VOCs as a function of temperatures ranging from ambient to combustion. PTR-MS enabled trace level analysis of VOCs from a complex forest atmosphere and revealed the release of terpenes associated with leaf damage during a storm. Temperature profile studies revealed ion abundances (i.e., emissions of VOCs) could be correlated with boiling points and vapor pressures of specific compounds. PTR-MS analysis of VOCs resulting from heating fresh leaf (E. grandis) material suggested that emissions of protonated methanol (m/z 33) and protonated acetaldehyde (m/z 45) were greatest at not, vert, similar60 °C while m/z 137 and 153 (associated with a series of terpenes) showed monotonic increases in ion abundance over a wide temperature range from ambient to 200 °C. GCMS analysis of fresh and senescent leaves of E. grandis showed that a series of VOCs (ethylvinylketone, diethylketone, 2-ethylfuran, hexanal and hexenals) are present only in fresh leaves while several terpenes (α and β pinenes, α-phellandrene, eucalyptol, γ-terpinene) were common in both. DART analysis of fresh leaf and stem of E. sideroxylon identified tissue-specific VOCs (e.g., methanol and ethanol were more abundant in stems). PTR-MS combustion studies of senescent leaves (E. grandis) identified two distinct, temperature-dependent VOC compositions. Before the appearance of smoke, the composition of VOCs remained consistent and correlated well with various naturally occurring isoprenoids, as observed in temperature profile studies. Sampling of eucalypt smoke suggested ions (m/z 75, 85, 87, 99, 111 and 125) correlated with protonated mass of oxygenated aldehydes, ketones, furans and substituted benzenes, and were due to pyrolysis of polycarbohydrates (cellulose and lignin) that are common in many types of wood.
Short TitleInternational Journal of Mass Spectrometry
Refereed DesignationRefereed