Particle size distributions from laboratory-scale biomass fires using fast response instruments
1University of California, Riverside, CA 92521, USA
2USDA Forest Service, Pacific Southwest Research Station, Forest Fire Laboratory, Riverside, CA, USA
3National Institutes for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), GA, USA
4Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, Richland, WA, USA
Abstract. Particle size distribution from biomass combustion is an important parameter as it affects air quality, climate modelling and health effects. To date particle size distributions reported from prior studies vary not only due to difference in fuels but also difference in experimental conditions. This study aims to report characteristics of particle size distribution in a well controlled repeatable lab scale biomass fires for southwestern US fuels. The combustion facility at the USDA Forest Service's Fire Science Laboratory (FSL), Missoula, MT provided repeatable combustion and dilution environment ideal for particle size distribution study. For a variety of fuels tested the major mode of particle size distribution was in the range of 29 to 52 nm, which was attributable to dilution of the fresh smoke. Comparing volume size distribution from Fast Mobility Particle Sizer (FMPS) and Aerodynamic Particle Sizer (APS) measurements, ~30% of particle volume was attributable to the particles ranging from 0.5 to 10 μm for PM10. Geometric mean diameter rapidly increased during flaming and gradually decreased during mixed and smoldering phase combustion. Most of fuels gave unimodal distribution during flaming phase and strong biomodal distribution during smoldering phase. The mode of combustion (flaming, mixed and smoldering) could be better distinguished using slopes in Modified Combustion Efficiency (MCE) vs. geometric mean diameter from each mode of combustion than only using MCE values.