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Characteristics of particle emissions and their atmospheric dilution during co-combustion of coal and wood pellets in a large combined heat and power plant

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review


Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of the Air and Waste Management Association
Early online date2018
Publication statusPublished - 2019
Publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


Coal combustion is one of the most significant anthropogenic CO2 and air pollution sources globally. This paper studies the atmospheric emissions of a power plant fuelled with a mixture of industrial pellets (10.5%) and coal (89.5%). Based on the stack measurements, the solid particle number emission, which was dominated by sub-200 nm particles, was 3.4×1011 MJ-1 for the fuel mixture when electrostatic precipitator (ESP) was cleaning the flue gas. The emission factor was 50 mg MJ-1 for particulate mass and 11 740 ng MJ-1 for the black carbon with the ESP. In the normal operation situation of the power plant, i.e., including the flue-gas desulphurisation and fabric filters (FGD and FF), the particle number emission factor was 1.7×108 MJ-1, particulate mass emission factor 2 mg MJ-1 and black carbon emission factor 14 ng MJ-1. Transmission electron microscopy (TEM) analysis supported the particle number size distribution measurement in terms of particle size and the black carbon concentration. The TEM images of the particles showed variability of the particle sizes, morphologies and chemical compositions. The atmospheric measurements, conducted in the flue-gas plume, showed that the flue-gas dilutes closed to background concentrations in 200 sec. However, an increase in particle number concentration was observed when the flue gas aged. This increase in particle number concentration was interpret as formation of new particles in the atmosphere. In general, the study highlights the importance of detailed particle measurements when utilizing new fuels in existing power plants. Implications: CO2 emissions of energy production decrease when substituting coal with biofuels. The effects of fuels changes on particle emission characteristics have not been studied comprehensively. In this study conducted for a real-scale power plant, co-combustion of wood pellets and coal caused elevated black carbon emissions. However, it was beneficial from the total particle number and particulate mass emission point of view. Flue-gas cleaning can significantly decrease the pollutant concentrations but also changes the characteristics of emitted particles. Atmospheric measurements implicated that the new particle formation in the atmospheric flue-gas plume should be taken into account when evaluating all effects of fuel changes.” Are implication statements part of the manuscript?.

Publication forum classification

Field of science, Statistics Finland