Highly controlled, reproducible measurements of aerosol emissions from combustion of a common African biofuel source

Sophie L. Haslett, J. Chris Thomas, William T. Morgan, Rory Hadden, Dantong Liu, James D. Allan, Paul I. Williams, Sekou Keita, Cathy Liousse, Hugh Coe*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Particulate emissions from biomass burning can both alter the atmosphere's radiative balance and cause significant harm to human health. However, due to the large effect on emissions caused by even small alterations to the way in which a fuel burns, it is difficult to study particulate production of biomass combustion mechanistically and in a repeatable manner. In order to address this gap, in this study, small wood samples sourced from Cote D'Ivoire in West Africa were burned in a highly controlled laboratory environment. The shape and mass of samples, available airflow and surrounding thermal environment were carefully regulated. Organic aerosol and refractory black carbon emissions were measured in real time using an Aerosol Mass Spectrometer and a Single Particle Soot Photometer, respectively. This methodology produced remarkably repeatable results, allowing aerosol emissions to be mapped directly onto different phases of combustion. Emissions from pyrolysis were visible as a distinct phase before flaming was established. After flaming combustion was initiated, a black-carbon-dominant flame was observed during which very little organic aerosol was produced, followed by a period that was dominated by organic-carbon-producing smouldering combustion, despite the presence of residual flaming. During pyrolysis and smouldering, the two phases producing organic aerosol, distinct mass spectral signatures that correspond to previously reported variations in biofuel emissions measured in the atmosphere are found. Organic aerosol emission factors averaged over an entire combustion event were found to be representative of the time spent in the pyrolysis and smouldering phases, rather than reflecting a coupling between emissions and the mass loss of the sample. Further exploration of aerosol yields from similarly carefully controlled fires and a careful comparison with data from macroscopic fires and real-world emissions will help to deliver greater constraints on the variability of particulate emissions in atmospheric systems.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)385-403
Number of pages19
JournalAtmospheric Chemistry and Physics
Volume18
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 12 Jan 2018

Keywords

  • BIOMASS-BURNING EMISSIONS
  • BLACK CARBON MEASUREMENTS
  • PARTICLE SOOT PHOTOMETER
  • ORGANIC AEROSOL
  • SOURCE APPORTIONMENT
  • MASS-SPECTROMETER
  • MULTILINEAR ENGINE
  • REGIONAL INFLUENCE
  • FIRE EMISSIONS
  • MIXING STATE

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