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Proton Transfer Reaction Time-of-Flight Mass Spectrometric (PTR-TOF-MS) determination of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) emitted from a biomass fire developed under stable nocturnal conditions

Journal Contribution - Journal Article

Combustion of solid and liquid fuels is the largest source of potentially toxic volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which can strongly affect health and the physical and chemical properties of the atmosphere. Among combustion processes, biomass burning is one of the largest at global scale. We used a Proton Transfer Reaction Time-of-Flight Mass Spectrometer (PTR-TOF-MS), which couples high sensitivity with high mass resolution, for real-time detection of multiple VOCs emitted by burned hay and straw in a barn located near our measuring station. We detected 132 different organic ions directly attributable to VOCs emitted from the fire. Methanol, acetaldehyde, acetone, methyl vinyl ether (MVE), acetic acid and glycolaldehyde dominated the VOC mixture composition. The time-course of the 25 most abundant VOCs, representing ∼85% of the whole mixture of VOCs, was associated with that of carbon monoxide (CO), carbon dioxide (CO2) and methane (CH4) emissions. The strong linear relationship between the concentrations of pyrogenic VOC and of a reference species (i.e. CO) allowed us to compile a list of emission ratios (ERs) and emission factors (EFs), but values of ER (and EF) were overestimated due to the limited mixing of the gases under the stable (non-turbulent) nocturnal conditions. In addition to the 25 most abundant VOCs, chemical formula and concentrations of the residual, less abundant VOCs in the emitted mixture were also estimated by PTR-TOF-MS. Furthermore, the evolution of the complex combustion process was described on the basis of the diverse types of pyrogenic gases recorded.
Journal: Atmospheric Environment
ISSN: 1352-2310
Volume: 97
Pages: 54 - 67
Publication year:2014