soot fireplace living room coal

Electric soot collector negates air quality impact of residential fireplaces

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A “high-temperature electric soot collector” (HiTESC) has been developed that could help mitigate emissions from residential fireplaces and stoves that can create significant localised air pollution in cities.

The air pollution emitted by residential biomass combustion is a known cause of adverse health effects, such as respiratory and cardiovascular diseases, as well as adverse climate effects.

It has been cited as a major source of air pollution almost everywhere in the world, causing particularly high emissions of fine particulate matter, black carbon and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs).

Manufacturers of stoves and fireplaces must soon comply with tightening emission regulations, such as the Ecodesign Directive entering into force in the European Union in 2022, spurring demand for new emission control solutions.

Researchers at the University of Eastern Finland believe their invention presents a novel method to reduce particulate emissions.

HiTESC is an electrically insulated high-voltage electrode that can be installed in a combustion chamber, which generates an electric field. Particles that acquire the electrical charges produced by flames are collected on the electrode surface and oxidised at high temperatures.

The researchers said they achieved a fine particle reduction efficiency of 45 per cent in a logwood-fired masonry heater with a combustion procedure that resembles real-world usage. Particle emissions were measured with and without HiTESC on consecutive measurement days to determine the overall fine particle reduction efficiency of the device.

The researchers found that the reduction efficiency of the method was found to be dependent on the combustion phase. The fine particle reduction was most efficient during the flaming conditions, when the fine particle emissions were the highest.

First author Heikki Suhonen said: “The advantages of HiTESC are its simple construction, low space requirement and low energy consumption. In addition, it doesn’t require a separate cleaning mechanism. HiTESC can also be retrofitted in logwood-fired combustion appliances to achieve future emission regulation limits, without using costly exhaust after-treatment systems.”

The study shows that utilising the natural charges of flames can be used as a simple and feasible method to reduce fine particle emissions of logwood-fired appliances.

Last week, London’s Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) was expanded in size significantly in an attempt to improve air quality in the Capital.

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