Volatile organic emissions from the distillation and pyrolysis of vegetation National Center for Atmospheric Research, Boulder, Colorado, 80307-3000, USA
Abstract. Leaf and woody plant tissue (Pinus ponderosa, Eucalyptus saligna,
Quercus gambelli, Saccharum officinarum and Oriza sativa) were heated from 30 to
300°C and volatile organic compound (VOC) emissions were identified and
quantified. Major VOC emissions were mostly oxygenated and included acetic acid, furylaldehyde, acetol,
pyrazine, terpenes, 2,3-butadione, phenol and methanol, as well as
smaller emissions of furan, acetone, acetaldehyde, acetonitrile and
benzaldehyde. Total VOC emissions from distillation and pyrolysis were on
the order of 10 gC/kgC dry weight of vegetation, as much as 33% and
44% of CO2 emissions (gC(VOC)/gC(CO2)) measured during the
same experiments, in air and nitrogen atmospheres, respectively.
The emissions are similar in identity and quantity to those from smoldering
combustion of woody tissue and of different character than those evolved
during flaming combustion. VOC emissions from the distillation of pools and
endothermic pyrolysis under low turbulence conditions may produce
flammable concentrations near leaves and may facilitate the propagation of wildfires. VOC
emissions from charcoal production are also related to distillation and
pyrolysis; the emissions of the highly reactive VOCs from production are as
large as the carbon monoxide emissions.
Citation: Greenberg, J. P., Friedli, H., Guenther, A. B., Hanson, D., Harley, P., and Karl, T.: Volatile organic emissions from the distillation and pyrolysis of vegetation, Atmos. Chem. Phys., 6, 81-91, doi:10.5194/acp-6-81-2006, 2006.