Atmos. Chem. Phys. Discuss., 5, 9097-9126, 2005
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This discussion paper has been under review for the journal Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics (ACP). Please refer to the corresponding final paper in ACP.
Volatile organic emissions from the distillation and pyrolysis of vegetation
J. P. Greenberg, H. Friedli, A. B. Guenther, D. Hanson, P. Harley, and T. Karl
National Center for Atmospheric Research, Boulder, Colorado, 80307-3000, USA

Abstract. Leaf and woody plant tissue (Pinus ponderosa, Eucalyptus saligna, Quercus gambelli, Saccharum officinarum and Oriza sativa) were heated from 30 to 300°C and volatile organic compound (VOC) emissions were identified and quantified. Major VOC emissions were acetic acid, furylaldehyde, methyl acetate, pyrazine, terpenes, 2,3-butadione, phenol and methanol, as well as smaller emissions of furan, acetone, acetaldehyde, acetonitrile and benzaldehyde. Total VOC emissions from distillation and pyrolysis were on the order of 10 mgC/gC dry weight of vegetation, as much as 33% and 44% of CO2 emissions (gC(VOC)/gC(CO2)) measured during the same experiments, in air and nitrogen atmospheres, respectively.

The emissions are similar in identity and quantity to those from smoldering combustion of woody tissue and of different character than those evolved during flaming combustion. VOC emissions from the distillation of pools and the pyrolysis of vegetation heated under low turbulence conditions produces concentrations near leaves that reach the lower limits of flammability and the emissions may be important in the propagation of wildfires. VOC emissions from charcoal production are also related to distillation and pyrolysis; the emissions of the highly reactive VOCs from production are as large as the carbon monoxide emissions.

Citation: Greenberg, J. P., Friedli, H., Guenther, A. B., Hanson, D., Harley, P., and Karl, T.: Volatile organic emissions from the distillation and pyrolysis of vegetation, Atmos. Chem. Phys. Discuss., 5, 9097-9126, doi:10.5194/acpd-5-9097-2005, 2005.
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