Even in the absence of sunlight, a recent study suggests that a unique set of atmospheric conditions could generate hydroxide (OH) molecules that aid in the self-purification of the atmosphere by neutralizing pollutants.

Researchers, including a scholar from the University of California, Irvine (UCI), discovered that an electric field at the boundary between airborne water particles and ambient air can produce OH through a previously unknown process.

OH oxidizes hydrocarbons and prevents their atmospheric buildup, according to UCI chemistry professor Sergey Nizkorodov.

Christian George, the study’s main author and an atmospheric chemist at the University of Lyon in France, noted that OH initiates reactions that decompose airborne pollutants and eradicate hazardous compounds such as sulphur dioxide and nitric oxide.

Understanding the sources and sinks of OH is crucial to reducing air pollution, as it is a significant component of atmospheric chemistry.

According to Sergey Nizkorodov, it is commonly believed that OH is produced through photochemistry or redox chemistry, which requires sunlight or metal catalysts. The current investigation, however, contradicts this assumption.

This study builds on prior findings by scientists from Stanford University, who reported the spontaneous formation of hydrogen peroxide on the surfaces of water droplets. The team examined various containers containing varying concentrations of OH and determined OH production in the dark by incorporating a “probe” molecule that fluoresced upon reaction with OH.

Which substances contribute most to global warming?

CO2, Methane, HCFCs, Ozone, and so forth.

What is the planet’s entire surface area?

510.1 million sq. km

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