Aerosol Science and Technology


Simulation of Aerosol Dynamics: A Comparative Review of Algorithms used in Air Quality Models

Yang Zhang, Christian Seigneur, John H. Seinfeld, Mark Z. Jacobson, and Francis S. Binkowski


A comparative review of algorithms currently used in air quality models to simulate aerosol dynamics is presented. This review addresses coagulation, condensational growth, nucleation, and gas/particle mass transfer. Two major approaches are used in air quality models to represent the particle size distribution: (1) the sectional approach in which the size distribution is discretized into sections and particle properties are assumed to be constant over particle size sections and (2) the modal approach in which the size distribution is approximated by several modes and particle properties are assumed to be uniform in each mode. The sectional approach is accurate for coagulation and can reproduce the major characteristics of the evolution of the particle size distribution for condensational growth with the moving-center and hybrid algorithms. For coagulation and condensational growth, the modal approach provides more accurate results when the standard deviations of the modes are allowed to vary than when they are fixed. Predictions of H2SO4 nucleation rates are highly sensitive to environmental variables and simulation of relative rates of condensation on existing particles and nucleation is a preferable approach. Explicit treatment of mass transfer is recommended for cases where volatile species undergo different equilibrium reactions in different particle size ranges (e.g., in the presence of coarse salt particles). The results of this study provide useful information to select algorithms to simulate aerosol dynamics in air quality models and to improve the accuracy of existing algorithms.

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