Characterization of fine particulate matter produced by combustion of residual fuel oil

J Air Waste Manag Assoc. 2000 Jul;50(7):1106-14. doi: 10.1080/10473289.2000.10464157.


Combustion experiments were carried out on four different residual fuel oils in a 732-kW boiler. PM emission samples were separated aerodynamically by a cyclone into fractions that were nominally less than and greater than 2.5 microns in diameter. However, examination of several of the samples by computer-controlled scanning electron microscopy (CCSEM) revealed that part of the PM2.5 fraction consists of carbonaceous cenospheres and vesicular particles that range up to 10 microns in diameter. X-ray absorption fine structure (XAFS) spectroscopy data were obtained at the S, V, Ni, Fe, Cu, Zn, and As K-edges and at the Pb L-edge. Deconvolution of the X-ray absorption near edge structure (XANES) region of the S spectra established that the dominant molecular forms of S present were sulfate (26-84% of total S) and thiophene (13-39% of total S). Sulfate was greater in the PM2.5 samples than in the PM2.5+ samples. Inorganic sulfides and elemental sulfur were present in lower percentages. The Ni XANES spectra from all of the samples agreed fairly well with that of NiSO4, while most of the V spectra closely resembled that of vanadyl sulfate (VO.SO4.xH2O). The other metals investigated (i.e., Fe, Cu, Zn, and Pb) also were present predominantly as sulfates. Arsenic was present as an arsenate (As+5). X-ray diffraction patterns of the PM2.5 fraction exhibit sharp lines due to sulfate compounds (Zn, V, Ni, Ca, etc.) superimposed on broad peaks due to amorphous carbons. All of the samples contain a significant organic component, with the loss on ignition (LOI) ranging from 64 to 87% for the PM2.5 fraction and from 88 to 97% for the PM2.5+ fraction. Based on 13C nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) analysis, the carbon is predominantly condensed in graphitic structures. Aliphatic structure was detected in only one of seven samples examined.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Air Pollution / analysis*
  • Environmental Monitoring / methods
  • Fuel Oils*
  • Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy
  • Organic Chemicals / analysis
  • Particle Size
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Spectrometry, X-Ray Emission


  • Fuel Oils
  • Organic Chemicals