Impacts of Combustion Conditions and Photochemical Processing on the Light Absorption of Biomass Combustion Aerosol

J. Martinsson, A. C. Eriksson, I. Elbæk Nielsen, V. Berg Malmborg, E. Ahlberg, C. Andersen, R. Lindgren, R. Nyström, E. Z. Nordin, W. H. Brune, B. Svenningsson, E. Swietlicki, C. Boman, J. H. Pagels

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

129 Scopus citations


The aim was to identify relationships between combustion conditions, particle characteristics, and optical properties of fresh and photochemically processed emissions from biomass combustion. The combustion conditions included nominal and high burn rate operation and individual combustion phases from a conventional wood stove. Low temperature pyrolysis upon fuel addition resulted in "tar-ball" type particles dominated by organic aerosol with an absorption Ångström exponent (AAE) of 2.5-2.7 and estimated Brown Carbon contributions of 50-70% to absorption at the climate relevant aethalometer-wavelength (520 nm). High temperature combustion during the intermediate (flaming) phase was dominated by soot agglomerates with AAE 1.0-1.2 and 85-100% of absorption at 520 nm attributed to Black Carbon. Intense photochemical processing of high burn rate flaming combustion emissions in an oxidation flow reactor led to strong formation of Secondary Organic Aerosol, with no or weak absorption. PM1 mass emission factors (mg/kg) of fresh emissions were about an order of magnitude higher for low temperature pyrolysis compared to high temperature combustion. However, emission factors describing the absorption cross section emitted per kg of fuel consumed (m2/kg) were of similar magnitude at 520 nm for the diverse combustion conditions investigated in this study. These results provide a link between biomass combustion conditions, emitted particle types, and their optical properties in fresh and processed plumes which can be of value for source apportionment and balanced mitigation of biomass combustion emissions from a climate and health perspective.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)14663-14671
Number of pages9
JournalEnvironmental Science and Technology
Issue number24
StatePublished - Dec 15 2015

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Chemistry
  • Environmental Chemistry


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