Articles | Volume 17, issue 24
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 Fang, Wei Deng, Yanli Zhang, Xiang Ding, Mingjin Tang, Tengyu Liu, Qihou Hu, Ming Zhu, Zhaoyi Wang, Weiqiang Yang, Zhonghui Huang, Wei Song, Xinhui Bi, Jianmin Chen, Yele Sun, Christian George, and Xinming Wang

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