Environmental science & technology

A theoretical study of the oxidation of Hg0 to HgBr2 in the troposphere.

PMID 15074688


The oxidation of elemental mercury (Hg0) to the divalent gaseous mercury dibromide (HgBr2) has been proposed to account for the removal of Hg0 during depletion events in the springtime Arctic. The mechanism of this process is explored in this paper by theoretical calculations of the relevant rate coefficients. Rice-Ramsberger-Kassel-Marcus (RRKM) theory, together with ab initio quantum calculations where required, are used to estimate the following: recombination rate coefficients of Hg with Br, I, and O; the thermal dissociation rate coefficient of HgBr; and the recombination rate coefficients of HgBr with Br, I, OH, and O2. A mechanism based on the initial recombination of Hg with Br, followed by the addition of a second radical (Br, I, or OH) in competition with thermal dissociation of HgBr, is able to account for the observed rate of Hg0 removal, both in Arctic depletion events and at lower latitudes.