Kinetics of Sulfur Trioxide Reaction with Water Vapor to Form Atmospheric Sulfuric Acid

Bo Long, Yu Xia, Yu Qiong Zhang, Donald G. Truhlar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Although experimental methods can be used to obtain the quantitative kinetics of atmospheric reactions, experimental data are often limited to a narrow temperature range. The reaction of SO3 with water vapor is important for elucidating the formation of sulfuric acid in the atmosphere; however, the kinetics is uncertain at low temperatures. Here, we calculate rate constants for reactions of sulfur trioxide with two water molecules. We consider two mechanisms: the SO3···H2O + H2O reaction and the SO3 + (H2O)2 reaction. We find that beyond-CCSD(T) contributions to the barrier heights are very large, and multidimensional tunneling, unusually large anharmonicity of high-frequency modes, and torsional anharmonicity are important for obtaining quantitative kinetics. We find that at lower temperatures, the formation of the termolecular precursor complexes, which is often neglected, is rate-limiting compared to passage through the tight transition states. Our calculations show that the SO3···H2O + H2O mechanism is more important than the SO3 + (H2O)2 mechanism at 5-50 km altitudes. We find that the rate ratio between SO3···H2O + H2O and SO3 + (H2O)2 is greater than 20 at altitudes between 10 and 35 km, where the concentration of SO3 is very high.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)19866-19876
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of the American Chemical Society
Issue number36
StatePublished - Sep 13 2023
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 American Chemical Society.

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article


Dive into the research topics of 'Kinetics of Sulfur Trioxide Reaction with Water Vapor to Form Atmospheric Sulfuric Acid'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this