Articles | Volume 15, issue 5
Research article
12 Mar 2015
Research article |  | 12 Mar 2015

Characterization of primary and secondary wood combustion products generated under different burner loads

E. A. Bruns, M. Krapf, J. Orasche, Y. Huang, R. Zimmermann, L. Drinovec, G. Močnik, I. El-Haddad, J. G. Slowik, J. Dommen, U. Baltensperger, and A. S. H. Prévôt

Abstract. Residential wood burning contributes to the total atmospheric aerosol burden; however, large uncertainties remain in the magnitude and characteristics of wood burning products. Primary emissions are influenced by a variety of parameters, including appliance type, burner wood load and wood type. In addition to directly emitted particles, previous laboratory studies have shown that oxidation of gas-phase emissions produces compounds with sufficiently low volatility to readily partition to the particles, forming considerable quantities of secondary organic aerosol (SOA). However, relatively little is known about wood burning SOA, and the effects of burn parameters on SOA formation and composition are yet to be determined. There is clearly a need for further study of primary and secondary wood combustion aerosols to advance our knowledge of atmospheric aerosols and their impacts on health, air quality and climate.

For the first time, smog chamber experiments were conducted to investigate the effects of wood loading on both primary and secondary wood combustion products. Products were characterized using a range of particle- and gas-phase instrumentation, including an aerosol mass spectrometer (AMS). A novel approach for polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon (PAH) quantification from AMS data was developed and results were compared to those from GC-MS analysis of filter samples.

Similar total particle mass emission factors were observed under high and average wood loadings; however, high fuel loadings were found to generate significantly higher contributions of PAHs to the total organic aerosol (OA) mass compared to average loadings. PAHs contributed 15 ± 4% (mean ±2 sample standard deviations) to the total OA mass in high-load experiments, compared to 4 ± 1% in average-load experiments. With aging, total OA concentrations increased by a factor of 3 ± 1 for high load experiments compared to 1.6 ± 0.4 for average-load experiments. In the AMS, an increase in PAH and aromatic signature ions at lower m / z values, likely fragments from larger functionalized PAHs, was observed with aging. Filter samples also showed an increase in functionalized PAHs in the particles with aging, particularly oxidized naphthalene species. As PAHs and their oxidation products are known to have deleterious effects on health, this is a noteworthy finding to aid in the mitigation of negative wood burning impacts by improving burner operation protocols.

Short summary
Residential wood combustion contributes significantly to the total atmospheric particulate burden; however, uncertainties remain in the magnitude and characteristics of wood burning products. The effects of wood loading on freshly emitted and aged emissions were investigated. Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, which negatively impact health, contributed more to the total organic aerosol under highly loaded burner conditions, which has significant implications for burner operation protocols.
Final-revised paper