Secondary organic aerosol formation from smoldering and flaming combustion of biomass: a box model parametrization based on volatility basis set


  • Stefenelli Giulia
  • Jiang Jianhui
  • Bertrand Amelie
  • Bruns Emily
  • Pieber Simone
  • Baltensperger Urs
  • Marchand Nicolas
  • Aksoyoglu Sebnem
  • Prevot André
  • Slowik Jay
  • Haddad Imad

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Residential wood combustion remains one of the most important sources of primary organic aerosols (POA) and secondary organic aerosol (SOA) precursors during winter. The overwhelming majority of these precursors have not been traditionally considered in regional models, and only recently were lignin pyrolysis products and polycyclic aro-matics identified as the principal SOA precursors from flam-ing wood combustion. The SOA yields of these components in the complex matrix of biomass smoke remain unknown and may not be inferred from smog chamber data based on single-compound systems. Here, we studied the ageing of emissions from flaming and smoldering-dominated wood fires in three different residential stoves, across a wide range of ageing temperatures (− 10, 2 and 15 • C) and emission loads. Organic gases (OGs) acting as SOA precursors were monitored by a proton-transfer-reaction time-of-flight mass spectrometer (PTR-ToF-MS), while the evolution of the aerosol properties during ageing in the smog chamber was monitored by a high-resolution time-of-flight aerosol mass spectrometer (HR-ToF-AMS). We developed a novel box model based on the volatility basis set (VBS) to determine the volatility distributions of the oxidation products from different precursor classes found in the emissions, grouped according to their emission pathways and SOA production rates. We show for the first time that SOA yields in complex emissions are consistent with those reported in literature from single-compound systems. We identify the main SOA precursors in both flaming and smoldering wood combustion emissions at different temperatures. While single-ring and polycyclic aromatics are significant precursors in flam-ing emissions, furans generated from cellulose pyrolysis appear to be important for SOA production in the case of smoldering fires. This is especially the case at high loads and low temperatures, given the higher volatility of furan oxidation products predicted by the model. We show that the oxidation products of oxygenated aromatics from lignin pyrolysis are expected to dominate SOA formation, independent of the combustion or ageing conditions, and therefore can be used as promising markers to trace ageing of biomass smoke in the field. The model framework developed herein may be gener-alizable for other complex emission sources, allowing determination of the contributions of different precursor classes to SOA, at a level of complexity suitable for implementation in regional air quality models.

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