Research topic I

Under the microscope: Characterization of particulate matter emitted into the atmosphere during biomass combustion

Biomass-combustion installations emit various gaseous substances as well as fine and coarse particulate matter (PM). Fine particles are generally defined as those with a diameter that is less than 2.5 micrometers (1000 micrometers correspond to 1 mm) and are known as PM2.5. Coarse particles have diameters that are larger than 2.5 micrometers. The particulate emissions influence local and regional air quality and may have a negative impact on human health, which depends to a large extent on the physical and chemical properties of the inhaled particles. The particles, therefore, must be characterized mineralogically and chemically; their size distribution and their mass concentrations are determined. By that mean, we hope for a better understanding of their interactions with the atmosphere and the human lungs. Coarse particles are commonly investigated by optical microscopy, whereas fine particles are studied using various types of electron microscopes. We also investigate how particle properties are influenced by the type of biomass used as fuel and by the operating conditions of the combustion facilities.

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