Properties and emission factors of cloud condensation nuclei from biomass cookstoves – observations of a strong dependency on potassium content in the fuel

Kristensen, Thomas Bjerring; Falk, John; Lindgren, Robert; Andersen, Christina; Malmborg, Vilhelm B.; Eriksson, Axel C.; Korhonen, Kimmo; Carvalho, Ricardo Luis; Boman, Christoffer; Pagels, Joakim; Svenningsson, Birgitta

Residential biomass combustion is a significant source of aerosol particles on regional and global scales influencing climate and human health. The main objective of the current study was to investigate the properties of cloud condensation nuclei (CCN) emitted from biomass burning of solid fuels in different cookstoves mostly of relevance to sub-Saharan east Africa.

The traditional three-stone fire and a rocket stove were used for combustion of wood logs of Sesbania and Casuarina with birch used as a reference. A natural draft and a forced-draft pellet stove were used for combustion of pelletised Sesbania and pelletised Swedish softwood alone or in mixtures with pelletised coffee husk, rice husk or water hyacinth. The CCN activity and the effective density were measured for particles with mobility diameters of inline-formula65, inline-formula100 and inline-formula200 nm, respectively, and occasionally for 350 nm particles. Particle number size distributions were measured online with a fast particle analyser. The chemical composition of the fuel ash was measured by application of standard protocols.

The average particle number size distributions were by number typically dominated by an ultrafine mode, and in most cases a soot mode was centred around a mobility diameter of inline-formula150 nm. The CCN activities decreased with increasing particle size for all experiments and ranged in terms of the hygroscopicity parameter, inline-formulaκ, from inline-formula0.1 to inline-formula0.8 for the ultrafine mode and from inline-formula0.001 to inline-formula0.15 for the soot mode. The CCN activity (inline-formulaκ) of the ultrafine mode increased (i) with increasing combustion temperature for a given fuel, and (ii) it typically increased with increasing potassium concentration in the investigated fuels. The primary CCN and the estimated particulate matter (PM) emission factors were typically found to increase significantly with increasing potassium concentration in the fuel for a given stove. In order to link CCN emission factors to PM emission factors, knowledge about stove technology, stove operation and the inorganic fuel ash composition is needed. This complicates the use of ambient PM levels alone for estimation of CCN concentrations in regions dominated by biomass combustion aerosol, with the relation turning even more complex when accounting for atmospheric ageing of the aerosol.

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Kristensen, Thomas Bjerring / Falk, John / Lindgren, Robert / et al: Properties and emission factors of cloud condensation nuclei from biomass cookstoves – observations of a strong dependency on potassium content in the fuel. 2021. Copernicus Publications.

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