Characterization of airborne particles at a high-btu coal-gasification pilot plant

Cliff I. Davidson, Suresh Santhanam, Joseph R. Stetter, Richard D. Flotard, Elizabeth Gebert

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Airborne particles in fugitive emissions have been measured at a slagging fixed-bed coal-gasification pilot plant using lignite. Sampling was conducted during shutdown operations and opening of the gasifier following an aborted startup. Aerosol collected with a Sierra high-volume impactor was subjected to analysis by gas chromatography, mass spectrometry, and scanning electron microscopy; aerosol collected with an Andersen low-volume impactor was subjected to flameless atomic absorption analysis. The data show that the bulk of the trace organic material is associated with small particles: these data are similar to data on ambient air reported in the literature. Particle morphologies resemble those of fly ash from coal combustion, including smooth spheres, vesicular spheres, and crystalline material. Trace element size distributions are bimodal and resemble data for ambient air. Pb-containing particles are generally submicron, while particles containing Al, Fe, and other crustal species are mostly of supermicron size. Aluminum-based aerosol enrichment factors calculated from the lignite composition show that the composition of the aerosol resembles that of the coal, with the exception of modest enrichments of Mg, Na, As, and Pb in the submicron size range. Aerosol enrichment factors based on the earth's crustal composition are somewhat greater than those based on coal composition for several elements, suggesting potential errors in using crustal enrichment data to investigate chemical fractionation during aerosol formation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)313-335
Number of pages23
JournalEnvironmental Monitoring and Assessment
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 1982
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Environmental Science
  • Pollution
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law


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