Aerosols from Biomass Combustion – Technical report (Thomas Nussbaumer, 2017)

Jul 2017
Aerosol emissions

Aerosols from Biomass Combustion – Technical report (Thomas Nussbaumer, 2017)

This report by Thomas Nussbaumer (VERENUM, Switzerland) provides an overview of recent R&D on the particle emissions and related health aspects of biomass combustion.

The use of biomass for heat and power production is supported in many IEA countries since biomass as a renewable fuel can effectively substitute fossil fuels and consequently reduce fossil CO2. During biomass combustion, inhalable particulate matter smaller than 10 micrometres (PM10) can be generated which can cause adverse health impacts. COmitigation strategy involving biomass therefore needs to consider potential health impacts and ensure low PM emissions. This report summarises the current knowledge on the health relevance of combustion generated PM, describes the mechanisms which can cause PM in biomass combustion, describes different particle types, and provides infor-mation on measures to reduce PM from biomass combustion.

It is important to distinguish carbonaceous and inorganic pollutants as well as primary and secondary aerosols. Organic pollutants are particularly relevant to residential biomass combustion and can be avoided at near-complete combustion conditions. Particles resulting from incomplete combustion in manual devices exhibit a high cytotoxicity, while particles from properly operated automated biomass boilers and furnaces are mainly inorganic (derived from ash constituents in the biomass) and exhibit significantly lower or even undetectable cytotoxicity. In addition, inorganic particles can be removed effectively by air pollution control equipment such as electrostatic precipitators or fabric filters.

In summary, biomass can play an important role in future energy supply in an environmentally friendly manner through implementation of state-of-the-art combustion devices and their appropriate operation.