Chemistry Professor Receives NSF Grant for Nucleation Research

Dr. David Hanson, Assistant Professor of Chemistry, was awarded $386,163 from NSF’s Division of Atmospheric and Geospace Sciences. The three year project, “Nucleation studies with sulfuric acid (H2SO4) and Nitrogenous Bases,” will test models for nucleation rates that can be incorporated into global climate models.

Nucleation is the driving force for new particle formation in the atmosphere. Newly formed particles affect clouds that greatly influence climate.  The investigation of nucleation with the atmospherically important species sulfuric acid, water and amines is the focus of this project.  The project will: 1) provide measured nucleation rates over a wide range of experimental conditions and 2) develop computation fluid dynamic (CFD) simulations of the experiments.  The comparison of laboratory results to CFD simulations will yield the free energies of formation of small molecular clusters, which are the smallest of the small particles.

The results of this project will improve the representation of particle formation processes in climate models and increase understanding of the sources of particulate matter dangerous to human health. Additionally, eight undergraduate research students will be supported over the life of the project, providing opportunities to develop technical expertise, critical thinking skills, and confidence, in addition to supporting NSF’s goal to develop a diverse, globally competitive STEM workforce.
Editor’s Note: This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. AGS-1338706. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.