Emissions of trace gases and aerosols during the open combustion of biomass in the laboratory

Publication Type

Journal Article

Date Published



We characterized the gas- and speciated aerosol-phase emissions from the open combustion of 33 different plant species during a series of 255 controlled laboratory burns during the Fire Laboratory at Missoula Experiments (FLAME). The plant species we tested were chosen to improve the existing database for U.S. domestic fuels: laboratory-based emission factors have not previously been reported for many commonly burned species that are frequently consumed by fires near populated regions and protected scenic areas. The plants we tested included the chaparral species chamise, manzanita, and ceanothus, and species common to the southeastern United States (common reed, hickory, kudzu, needlegrass rush, rhododendron, cord grass, sawgrass, titi, and wax myrtle). Fire-integrated emission factors for gas-phase CO2, CO, CH4, C2–4 hydrocarbons, NH3, SO2, NO, NO2, HNO3, and particle-phase organic carbon (OC), elemental carbon (EC), SO42−, NO3, Cl, Na+, K+, and NH4+ generally varied with both fuel type and with the fire-integrated modified combustion efficiency (MCE), a measure of the relative importance of flaming- and smoldering-phase combustion to the total emissions during the burn. Chaparral fuels tended to emit less particulate OC per unit mass of dry fuel than did other fuel types, whereas southeastern species had some of the largest observed emission factors for total fine particulate matter. Our measurements spanned a larger range of MCE than prior studies, and thus help to improve estimates of the variation of emissions with combustion conditions for individual fuels.


Journal of Geophysical Research



Year of Publication


Short Title

J. Geophys. Res.