Temperature and air velocity effects on ethanol emission from corn silage with the characteristics of an exposed silo face

Felipe Montes, Sasha D. Hafner, C. Alan Rotz, Frank M. Mitloehner

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25 Scopus citations


Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) from agricultural sources are believed to be an important contributor to tropospheric ozone in some locations. Recent research suggests that silage is a major source of VOCs emitted from agriculture, but only limited data exist on silage emissions. Ethanol is the most abundant VOC emitted from corn silage; therefore, ethanol was used as a representative compound to characterize the pattern of emission over time and to quantify the effect of air velocity and temperature on emission rate. Ethanol emission was measured from corn silage samples removed intact from a bunker silo. Emission rate was monitored over 12 h for a range in air velocity (0.05, 0.5, and 5 m s-1) and temperature (5, 20, and 35 °C) using a wind tunnel system. Ethanol flux ranged from 0.47 to 210 g m-2 h-1 and 12 h cumulative emission ranged from 8.5 to 260 g m-2. Ethanol flux was highly dependent on exposure time, declining rapidly over the first hour and then continuing to decline more slowly over the duration of the 12 h trials. The 12 h cumulative emission increased by a factor of three with a 30 °C increase in temperature and by a factor of nine with a 100-fold increase in air velocity. Effects of air velocity, temperature, and air-filled porosity were generally consistent with a conceptual model of VOC emission from silage. Exposure duration, temperature, and air velocity should be taken into consideration when measuring emission rates of VOCs from silage, so emission rate data obtained from studies that utilize low air flow methods are not likely representative of field conditions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1987-1995
Number of pages9
JournalAtmospheric Environment
Issue number16
StatePublished - May 2010

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Environmental Science
  • Atmospheric Science


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