Pellet stoves arouse a real interest from consumers because they are perceived as a renewable and carbon neutral energy. However, wood combustion can contribute significantly to air pollution, in particular through the emission of particulate matter (PM). In this article, five brands of wood pellets were burnt under optimal combustion conditions and trace element and inorganic salt emission factors (EFs) in PM were determined. Results show that a significant proportion of metals such as lead, zinc, cadmium, and copper initially present in pellets were emitted into the air during combustion with 20 ± 6%, 31 ± 12%, and 19 ± 6% of the initial content respectively for Zn, Pb, and Cd. The median emission factors for Pb, Cu, Cd, As, Zn, and Ni were respectively 188, 86, 9.3, 8.7, 2177, and 3.5 μg kg−1. The inorganic fraction of the PM emissions was dominated by K+, SO42−, and Cl− with respective EFs of 33, 28.7, and 11.2 mg kg−1. Even taking into account a consumption of 40.1 million tons by 2030 in the EU, the resulting pollution in terms of heavy metal emissions remains minimal in comparison with global emissions in the EU.
This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.
Buy single article
Instant access to the full article PDF.
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.
Subscribe to journal
Immediate online access to all issues from 2019. Subscription will auto renew annually.
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.
Arranz JI, Miranda MT, Montero I, Sepúlveda FJ, Rojas CV (2015) Characterization and combustion behaviour of commercial and experimental wood pellets in South West Europe. Fuel 142:199–207. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.fuel.2014.10.059
Avagyan R, Nyström R, Lindgren R, Boman C, Westerholm R (2016) Particulate hydroxy-PAH emissions from a residential wood log stove using different fuels and burning conditions. Atmos Environ 140:1–9. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.atmosenv.2016.05.041
Avakian MD et al (2002) The origin, fate, and health effects of combustion by-products: a research framework. Environ Health Perspect 110:1155–1162. https://doi.org/10.1289/ehp.021101155
Baxter XC, Darvell LI, Jones JM, Barraclough T, Yates NE, Shield I (2012) Study of Miscanthus x giganteus ash composition – variation with agronomy and assessment method. Fuel 95:50–62. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.fuel.2011.12.025
Bølling AK et al (2012) Wood smoke particles from different combustion phases induce similar pro-inflammatory effects in a co-culture of monocyte and pneumocyte cell lines. Part Fibre Toxicol 9:45–45. https://doi.org/10.1186/1743-8977-9-45
Boman C, Nordin A, Boström D, Öhman M (2004) Characterization of inorganic particulate matter from residential combustion of pelletized biomass fuels. Energy Fuel 18:338–348. https://doi.org/10.1021/ef034028i
Boman C, Öhman M, Nordin A (2006) Trace element enrichment and behavior in wood pellet production and combustion processes. Energy Fuel 20:993–1000. https://doi.org/10.1021/ef050375b
Boman C, Pettersson E, Westerholm R, Boström D, Nordin A (2011) Stove performance and emission characteristics in residential wood log and pellet combustion, part 1: Pellet Stoves. Energy Fuel 25:307–314. https://doi.org/10.1021/ef100774x
Chandrasekaran SR, Hopke PK, Rector L, Allen G, Lin L (2012) Chemical composition of wood chips and wood pellets. Energy Fuel 26:4932–4937. https://doi.org/10.1021/ef300884k
Chow J, Watson J (1999) Ion chromatography in elemental analysis of airborne particles. In: S. Landsberger MC (ed) Elemental analysis of airborne particles, vol 1. Gordon and Breach Science, pp 97–137
Czech H et al (2018) Chemical composition and speciation of particulate organic matter from modern residential small-scale wood combustion appliances. Sci Total Environ 612:636–648. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.scitotenv.2017.08.263
Danielsen PH, Loft S, Kocbach A, Schwarze PE, Møller P (2009) Oxidative damage to DNA and repair induced by Norwegian wood smoke particles in human A549 and THP-1 cell lines. Mutat Res Genet Toxicol Environ Mutagen 674:116–122. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.mrgentox.2008.10.014
Dhammapala R, Claiborn C, Simpson C, Jimenez J (2007) Emission factors from wheat and Kentucky bluegrass stubble burning: comparison of field and simulated burn experiments. Atmos Environ 41:1512–1520. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.atmosenv.2006.10.008
Dilger M, Orasche J, Zimmermann R, Paur H-R, Diabaté S, Weiss C (2016) Toxicity of wood smoke particles in human A549 lung epithelial cells: the role of PAHs, soot and zinc. Arch Toxicol 90:3029–3044. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00204-016-1659-1
EEA (2019) National emissions reported to the Convention on Long-range Transboundary Air Pollution (LRTAP Convention). https://www.eea.europa.eu/data-and-maps/data/national-emissions-reported-to-the-convention-on-long-range-transboundary-air-pollution-lrtap-convention-13. Accessed 13 March 2020
Fachinger F, Drewnick F, Gieré R, Borrmann S (2017) How the user can influence particulate emissions from residential wood and pellet stoves: emission factors for different fuels and burning conditions. Atmos Environ 158:216–226. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.atmosenv.2017.03.027
Fernandez A, Davis SB, Wendt JOL, Cenni R, Young RS, Witten ML (2001) Particulate emission from biomass combustion. Nature 409:998–998. https://doi.org/10.1038/35059169
Fine PM, Cass GR, Simoneit BRT (2001) Chemical characterization of fine particle emissions from fireplace combustion of woods grown in the northeastern United States. Environ Sci Technol 35:2665–2675. https://doi.org/10.1021/es001466k
Happo MS et al (2013) Pulmonary inflammation and tissue damage in the mouse lung after exposure to PM samples from biomass heating appliances of old and modern technologies. Sci Total Environ 443:256–266. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.scitotenv.2012.11.004
Ho TC, Chu HW, Hopper JR (1993) Metal volatilization and separation during incineration. Waste Manag 13:455–466. https://doi.org/10.1016/0956-053X(93)90077-A
International Organization for Standardization G, Switzerland (2014) ISO 17225-2:2014 Solid biofuels - fuel specifications and classes - Part 2: Graded wood pellets
Jonsson R, Rinaldi F (2017) The impact on global wood-product markets of increasing consumption of wood pellets within the European Union. Energy 133:864–878. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.energy.2017.05.178
Kasurinen S, Happo MS, Rönkkö TJ, Orasche J, Jokiniemi J, Kortelainen M, Tissari J, Zimmermann R, Hirvonen MR, Jalava PI (2018) Differences between co-cultures and monocultures in testing the toxicity of particulate matter derived from log wood and pellet combustion. PLoS One 13:e0192453. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0192453
Klippel N, Nussbaumer T (2007) Health relevance of particles from wood combustion in comparison to diesel soot. In: 15th European Biomass Conference and Exhibition, Berlin, 7–11 May 2007
Kocbach Bølling A, Pagels J, Yttri KE, Barregard L, Sallsten G, Schwarze PE, Boman C (2009) Health effects of residential wood smoke particles: the importance of combustion conditions and physicochemical particle properties. Part Fibre Toxicol 6:29. https://doi.org/10.1186/1743-8977-6-29
Lai A, Shan M, Deng M, Carter E, Yang X, Baumgartner J, Schauer J (2019) Differences in chemical composition of PM2.5 emissions from traditional versus advanced combustion (semi-gasifier) solid fuel stoves. Chemosphere 233:852–861. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.chemosphere.2019.06.013
Lighty JS, Veranth JM, Sarofim AF (2000) Combustion aerosols: factors governing their size and composition and implications to human health. J Air Waste Manage Assoc 50:1565–1618. https://doi.org/10.1080/10473289.2000.10464197
Lind T, Kauppinen EI, Hokkinen J, Jokiniemi JK, Orjala M, Aurela M, Hillamo R (2006) Effect of chlorine and sulfur on fine particle formation in pilot-scale CFBC of biomass. Energy Fuel 20:61–68. https://doi.org/10.1021/ef050122i
Miller B, Dugwell DR, Kandiyoti R (2003) The influence of injected HCl and SO2 on the behavior of trace elements during wood-bark combustion. Energy Fuel 17:1382–1391. https://doi.org/10.1021/ef030020x
Nyström R, Lindgren R, Avagyan R, Westerholm R, Lundstedt S, Boman C (2017) Influence of wood species and burning conditions on particle emission characteristics in a residential wood stove. Energy Fuel 31:5514–5524. https://doi.org/10.1021/acs.energyfuels.6b02751
Orecchio S, Amorello D, Barreca S (2016) II) wood pellets for home heating can be considered environmentally friendly fuels? Heavy metals determination by inductively coupled plasma-optical emission spectrometry (ICP-OES) in their ashes and the health risk assessment for the operators Microchem J 127:178–183 https://doi.org/10.1016/j.microc.2016.03.008
Paulrud S, Gustafsson T (2010) Emission factors and emissions from residential biomass combustion in Sweden. SMHI, Norrköping
Roden CA, Bond TC, Conway S, Pinel ABO (2006) Emission factors and real-time optical properties of particles emitted from traditional wood burning cookstoves. Environ Sci Technol 40:6750–6757. https://doi.org/10.1021/es052080i
Schauer JJ, Kleeman MJ, Cass GR, Simoneit BRT (2001) Measurement of emissions from air pollution sources. 3. C1−C29 organic compounds from fireplace combustion of wood. Environ Sci Technol 35:1716–1728. https://doi.org/10.1021/es001331e
Schmidl C et al (2011) Particulate and gaseous emissions from manually and automatically fired small scale combustion systems. Atmos Environ 45:7443–7454. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.atmosenv.2011.05.006
Shen G et al (2012) Emission of oxygenated polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons from biomass pellet burning in a modern burner for cooking in China. Atmos Environ 60:234–237. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.atmosenv.2012.06.067
Shen G et al (2013) Emissions of parent, nitrated, and oxygenated polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons from indoor corn straw burning in normal and controlled combustion conditions. J Environ Sci 25:2072–2080. https://doi.org/10.1016/S1001-0742(12)60249-6
Sippula O, Hytönen K, Tissari J, Raunemaa T, Jokiniemi J (2007) Effect of wood fuel on the emissions from a top-feed pellet stove. Energy Fuel 21:1151–1160. https://doi.org/10.1021/ef060286e
Torvela T, Uski O, Karhunen T, Lähde A, Jalava P, Sippula O, Tissari J, Hirvonen MR, Jokiniemi J (2014) Reference particles for toxicological studies of wood combustion: formation, characteristics, and toxicity compared to those of real wood combustion particulate mass. Chem Res Toxicol 27:1516–1527. https://doi.org/10.1021/tx500142f
Toscano G, Duca D, Amato A, Pizzi A (2014) Emission from realistic utilization of wood pellet stove. Energy 68:644–650. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.energy.2014.01.108
Uski OJ et al (2012) Acute systemic and lung inflammation in C57Bl/6J mice after intratracheal aspiration of particulate matter from small-scale biomass combustion appliances based on old and modern technologies. Inhal Toxicol 24:952–965. https://doi.org/10.3109/08958378.2012.742172
Uski O et al (2015) Effect of fuel zinc content on toxicological responses of particulate matter from pellet combustion in vitro. Sci Total Environ 511:331–340. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.scitotenv.2014.12.061
Wang K-S, Chiang K-Y, Tsai C-C, Sun C-J, Tsai C-C, Lin K-L (2001) The effects of FeCl3 on the distribution of the heavy metals Cd, Cu, Cr, and Zn in a simulated multimetal incineration system. Environ Int 26:257–263. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0160-4120(00)00115-X
Ward T, Lange T (2010) The impact of wood smoke on ambient PM2.5 in northern Rocky Mountain valley communities. Environ Pollut 158:723–729. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.envpol.2009.10.016
Zhang J et al (2000) Greenhouse gases and other airborne pollutants from household stoves in China: a database for emission factors. Atmos Environ 34:4537–4549. https://doi.org/10.1016/S1352-2310(99)00450-1
Zhang W, Tong Y, Wang H, Chen L, Ou L, Wang X, Liu G, Zhu Y (2014) Emission of metals from pelletized and uncompressed biomass fuels combustion in rural household stoves in China. Sci Rep 4:5611. https://doi.org/10.1038/srep05611
We thank Fabien BOUST and Wendy SY for technical assistance. The authors are grateful to Barry Holmes for his linguistic support.
This work was supported by Normandy Region (France), LABEX SYNORG, and the European Regional Development Funds (ERDF).
Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.
Responsible editor: Gerhard Lammel
Electronic supplementary material
About this article
Cite this article
Marcotte, S., Castilla, C., Morin, C. et al. Particulate inorganic salts and trace element emissions of a domestic boiler fed with five commercial brands of wood pellets. Environ Sci Pollut Res 27, 18221–18231 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11356-020-08329-8
- Domestic stoves
- Particle matter
- Trace elements
- Emission factors