Articles | Volume 17, issue 24
Atmos. Chem. Phys., 17, 14821–14839, 2017
Atmos. Chem. Phys., 17, 14821–14839, 2017

Research article 14 Dec 2017

Research article | 14 Dec 2017

Open burning of rice, corn and wheat straws: primary emissions, photochemical aging, and secondary organic aerosol formation

Zheng Fang1,3, Wei Deng1,3, Yanli Zhang1,2, Xiang Ding1, Mingjin Tang1, Tengyu Liu1, Qihou Hu1, Ming Zhu1,3, Zhaoyi Wang1,3, Weiqiang Yang1,3, Zhonghui Huang1,3, Wei Song1,2, Xinhui Bi1, Jianmin Chen4, Yele Sun5, Christian George6, and Xinming Wang1,2 Zheng Fang et al.
  • 1State Key Laboratory of Organic Geochemistry and Guangdong Key Laboratory of Environment Protection and Resources Utilization, Guangzhou Institute of Geochemistry, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Guangzhou 510640, China
  • 2Center for Excellence in Regional Atmospheric Environment, Institute of Urban Environment, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Xiamen 361021, China
  • 3University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100049, China
  • 4Shanghai Key Laboratory of Atmospheric Particle Pollution and Prevention, Department of Environmental Science & Engineering, Fudan University, Shanghai 200433, China
  • 5Institute of Atmospheric Physics, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100029, China
  • 6Institut de Recherches sur la Catalyse et l'Environment de Lyon (IRCELYON), CNRS, UMR5256, Villeurbanne 69626, France

Abstract. Agricultural residues are among the most abundant biomass burned globally, especially in China. However, there is little information on primary emissions and photochemical evolution of agricultural residue burning. In this study, indoor chamber experiments were conducted to investigate primary emissions from open burning of rice, corn and wheat straws and their photochemical aging as well. Emission factors of NOx, NH3, SO2, 67 non-methane hydrocarbons (NMHCs), particulate matter (PM), organic aerosol (OA) and black carbon (BC) under ambient dilution conditions were determined. Olefins accounted for  >  50 % of the total speciated NMHCs emission (2.47 to 5.04 g kg−1), indicating high ozone formation potential of straw burning emissions. Emission factors of PM (3.73 to 6.36 g kg−1) and primary organic carbon (POC, 2.05 to 4.11 gC kg−1), measured at dilution ratios of 1300 to 4000, were lower than those reported in previous studies at low dilution ratios, probably due to the evaporation of semi-volatile organic compounds under high dilution conditions. After photochemical aging with an OH exposure range of (1.97–4.97)  ×  1010 molecule cm−3 s in the chamber, large amounts of secondary organic aerosol (SOA) were produced with OA mass enhancement ratios (the mass ratio of total OA to primary OA) of 2.4–7.6. The 20 known precursors could only explain 5.0–27.3 % of the observed SOA mass, suggesting that the major precursors of SOA formed from open straw burning remain unidentified. Aerosol mass spectrometry (AMS) signaled that the aged OA contained less hydrocarbons but more oxygen- and nitrogen-containing compounds than primary OA, and carbon oxidation state (OSc) calculated with AMS resolved O ∕ C and H ∕ C ratios increased linearly (p  <  0.001) with OH exposure with quite similar slopes.

Short summary
Primary emissions and aging of open straw burning plumes were characterized in ambient dilution conditions in a chamber. Rich in alkenes, the plumes have high O3 formation potential. The emissions of specific particulate and gaseous compounds were less when the straws were fully burned. Organic aerosol (OA) mass increased by a factor of 2–8 with 3–9 h photo-oxidation, yet > 70 % of the mass cannot be explained by the known precursors. OA gained more O- and N-containing compounds during aging.
Final-revised paper