Ethanol is currently receiving increased attention because of its use as a biofuel or fuel additive and because of its influence on air quality. We used stable isotopic ratio measurements of 13C/ 12C in ethanol emitted from vehicles and a small group of tropical plants to establish ethanol's δ 13C end-member signatures. Ethanol emitted in exhaust is distinctly different from that emitted by tropical plants and can serve as a unique stable isotopic tracer for transportation-related inputs to the atmosphere. Ethanol's unique isotopic signature in fuel is related to corn, a C4 plant and the primary source of ethanol in the U.S. We estimated a kinetic isotope effect (KIE) for ethanol's oxidative loss in the atmosphere and used previous assumptions with respect to the fractionation that may occur during wet and dry deposition. A small number of interpretive model calculations were used for source apportionment of ethanol and to understand the associated effects resulting from atmospheric removal. The models incorporated our end-member signatures and ambient measurements of ethanol, known or estimated source strengths and removal magnitudes, and estimated KIEs associated with atmospheric removal processes for ethanol. We compared transportation-related ethanol signatures to those from biogenic sources and used a set of ambient measurements to apportion each source contribution in Miami, Florida-a moderately polluted, but well ventilated urban location.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Environmental Chemistry