Fine and ultrafine particle number and size measurements from industrial combustion processes: Primary emissions field data

This study is to our knowledge the first to present the results of on-line measurements of residual nanoparticle numbers downstream of the flue gas treatment systems of a wide variety of medium- and large-scale industrial installations. Where available, a semi-quantitative elemental composition of the sampled particles is carried out using a Scanning Electron Microscope coupled with an Energy Dispersive Spectrometer (SEM-EDS). The semiquantitative elemental composition as a function of the particle size is presented. EU's Best Available Technology documents (BAT) show removal efficiencies of Electrostatic Precipitator (ESP) and bag filter dedusting systems exceeding 99% when expressed in terms of weight. Their efficiency decreases slightly for particles smaller than 1 μm but when expressed in terms of weight, still exceeds 99% for bag filters and 96% for ESP. This study reveals that in terms of particle numbers, residual nanoparticles (NP) leaving the dedusting systems dominate by several orders of magnitude. In terms of weight, all installations respect their emission limit values and the contribution of NP to weight concentrations is negligible, despite their dominance in terms of numbers. Current World Health Organisation regulations are expressed in terms of PM2.5 wt concentrations and therefore do not reflect the presence or absence of a high number of NP. This study suggests that research is needed on possible additional guidelines related to NP given their possible toxicity and high potential to easily enter the blood stream when inhaled by humans.

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