Articles | Volume 15, issue 11
Research article
15 Jun 2015
Research article |  | 15 Jun 2015

Particulate emissions from residential wood combustion in Europe – revised estimates and an evaluation

H. A. C. Denier van der Gon, R. Bergström, C. Fountoukis, C. Johansson, S. N. Pandis, D. Simpson, and A. J. H. Visschedijk

Abstract. Currently residential wood combustion (RWC) is increasing in Europe because of rising fossil fuel prices but also due to climate change mitigation policies. However, especially in small-scale applications, RWC may cause high emissions of particulate matter (PM). Recently we have developed a new high-resolution (7 × 7 km) anthropogenic carbonaceous aerosol emission inventory for Europe. The inventory indicated that about half of the total PM2.5 emission in Europe is carbonaceous aerosol and identified RWC as the largest organic aerosol source in Europe. The inventory was partly based on national reported PM emissions. Use of this organic aerosol inventory as input for two chemical transport models (CTMs), PMCAMx and EMEP MSC-W, revealed major underestimations of organic aerosol in winter time, especially for regions dominated by RWC. Interestingly, this was not universal but appeared to differ by country.

In the present study we constructed a revised bottom-up emission inventory for RWC accounting for the semivolatile components of the emissions. The revised RWC emissions are higher than those in the previous inventory by a factor of 2–3 but with substantial inter-country variation. The new emission inventory served as input for the CTMs and a substantially improved agreement between measured and predicted organic aerosol was found. The revised RWC inventory improves the model-calculated organic aerosol significantly. Comparisons to Scandinavian source apportionment studies also indicate substantial improvements in the modelled wood-burning component of organic aerosol. This suggests that primary organic aerosol emission inventories need to be revised to include the semivolatile organic aerosol that is formed almost instantaneously due to dilution and cooling of the flue gas or exhaust. Since RWC is a key source of fine PM in Europe, a major revision of the emission estimates as proposed here is likely to influence source–receptor matrices and modelled source apportionment. Since usage of biofuels in small combustion units is a globally significant source, the findings presented here are also relevant for regions outside of Europe.

Short summary
Residential wood combustion (RWC) is increasing in Europe but may cause high emissions of particulate matter (PM). A revised bottom-up emission inventory was made which included the semi-volatile components. The revised RWC emissions are 2–3 times higher than the previous inventory. It significantly improved the modeling of PM and comparison with observations. Our results suggest primary PM2.5 emission from RWC as reported in Europe is underestimated and emission inventories need to be revised.
Final-revised paper