Chimney emissions from small-scale burning of pellets and fuelwood - examples referring to different combustion appliances
Journal article, 2004
Most wood boilers used for residential heating today are old-fashioned and emit large quantities of organic compounds. The installation of a pellet burner and a change to wood pellets as fuel normally decreases the emissions remarkably. In this study, the emissions from different equipment for burning of wood and pellets are compared. The organic fraction of smoke from traditional wood burning is to a great extent composed of methoxyphenols, with antioxidant effects. Methoxyphenols were also identified in smoke from pellet stoves. A fuelwood boiler or a furnace with an inserted pellet burner is heated to a higher combustion temperature, decreasing the total amount of organic compounds in the smoke. Above 800 °C, methoxyphenols are thermally decomposed and carcinogenic polycyclic aromatic compounds (PACs) are formed. The combustion-formed aromatic hydrocarbon benzene is present in smoke from all kinds of burning, but the proportion relative to primary organic compounds increases with increasing combustion temperature. In smoke from an environmentally labelled wood boiler and from some pellet burning devices, the levels of PAC and benzene were found to be low. Evidently, the combustion was nearly complete. Although the change from wood to pellets significantly decreases the emissions, considerable differences exist between various combinations of pellet burners and boiler furnaces.