The chemicals present in cooking oil could help with global warming, new research suggests.
Scientists say that, for the first time, they have shown how fatty acid molecules released during firing can be combined with aerosols in the atmosphere to form 3D complex structures.
These structures may remain long enough in the atmosphere to form clouds that could help cool the planet.
Aerosols are small particles suspended in the atmosphere that have been linked to climate change.
They exist in both solids and liquid form and are composed of dust, soot and chemical products released during volcanic eruptions.
Scientists have known for such a long time that diffusion emissions and other pool oils can form a layer around the aerosol particles
. But this is the first time that they have been closely watching the molecules inside the aerosol droplets.
Study co-author Dr. Christian Pfrang of the University of Reading said: "The total impact of the surprisingly complex molecular arrangements of these fatty acid molecules in the environment is difficult to quantify at this stage since these structures have not previously been considered by the atmospheric science community: there is no reliable estimate available yet of how much organic material shows such a complex self-badembly in the atmosphere and more research is urgently needed.
"However, it is probable that these structures have a significant effect on the uptake of water droplets in the atmosphere, increases the useful life of reactive molecules and generally slows down transport within these drops with still unexplored consequences. "
According to the researchers, brine and oleic acid from cooking oil contribute approximately 10% to the material fine particulate in London.
Study Co-author Dr. Adam Squires, of the University of Bath, added: "We know that the complex structures we saw are made up of similar molecules of fatty acids like soap in water.
"There, they drastically affect whether the mixture is cloudy or transparent, solid or liquid, and how much moisture is absorbed from the atmosphere in a laboratory."
"The idea that this may also be happening in the air about our The heads are exciting and pose challenges to understand what these cooking fats really are doing to the world around us. "
The research is published in Nature Communications