13 Oct 2023
 | 13 Oct 2023

Contribution of brown carbon on light absorption in emissions of European residential biomass combustion appliances

Satish Basnet, Anni Hartikainen, Aki Virkkula, Pasi Yli-Pirilä, Miika Kortelainen, Heikki Suhonen, Laura Kilpeläinen, Mika Ihalainen, Sampsa Väätäinen, Juho Louhisalmi, Markus Somero, Jarkko Tissari, Gert Jakobi, Ralf Zimmermann, Antti Kilpeläinen, and Olli Sippula

Abstract. Residential biomass combustion significantly contributes to light-absorbing carbonaceous aerosols in the atmosphere, impacting the Earth's radiative balance at regional and global levels. This study investigates the contribution of brown carbon to the total particulate light absorption in the wavelength range of 370 to 950 nm (BrC370-950) and the particulate absorption Ångström exponents (AAE470/950) in 15 different European residential combustion appliances using a variety of wood-based fuels. BrC370-950 was estimated to be from 1 % to 21 % for wood log stoves and was primarily influenced by fuel moisture content and minimally affected by combustion appliance type. The BrC370-950 contribution was 10 % for a fully automatized residential pellet boiler. Correlations between the ratio of organic to elemental carbon (OC/EC) and BrC indicated that a one unit increase in OC/EC corresponded to approximately a 14 % increase in BrC370-950. Additionally, BrC370-950 increased with decreasing combustion efficiency. AAE470/950 of wood log combustion aerosols ranged from 1.06 to 1.61. By examining the correlation between AAE470/950 and OC/EC, an AAE470/950 close to unity was found for pure black carbon (BC) particles originating from residential wood combustion. This supports the common assumption used to differentiate light absorption caused by BC and BrC. Moreover, diesel aerosols exhibited an AAE470/950 of 1.02, with BrC370-950 contributing only 0.66 % to the total absorption, aligning with the assumption employed in source apportionment. These findings provide important data to assess the BrC370-950 of RWC emissions with different emission characteristics and confirm that BrC can be a major contributor to particulate UV and near-UV light absorption for Northern European wood stove emissions with relatively high OC/EC ratios.

Satish Basnet et al.

Status: final response (author comments only)

Comment types: AC – author | RC – referee | CC – community | EC – editor | CEC – chief editor | : Report abuse
  • RC1: 'Comment on egusphere-2023-2228', Anonymous Referee #1, 02 Nov 2023
  • RC2: 'Comment on egusphere-2023-2228', Anonymous Referee #2, 03 Nov 2023

Satish Basnet et al.


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Short summary
Brown carbon (BrC) emissions were estimated for residential wood combustion (RWC) from Northern European appliances utilizing an extensive 7-wavelength Aethalometer dataset and thermal-optical carbon analysis. The contribution of BrC to the absorption of visible light was estimated to vary between 1–21 %. BrC contribution was strongly linked with fuel moisture content and combustion efficiency. The study provides important information to assess the climate effects of RWC emissions.