Catalytic converters can be used to decrease carbon monoxide, organic compounds and soot from small-scale wood-fired appliances. The reduction is based on the oxidation of gaseous and particulate pollutants promoted by catalytic transition metal surfaces. However, many transition metals have also strong catalytic effect on PCDD/F formation. In this study birch logs were burned in a wood-fired stove (18 kW) with and without a catalytic converter with palladium and platinum as catalysts. PCDD/F, chlorophenol and PAH concentrations were analyzed from three phases of combustion (ignition, pyrolysis and burnout) and from the whole combustion cycle. PCDD/F emissions without the catalytic converter were at a level previously measured for wood combustion (0.15-0.74 ng N m(-3)). PAH emissions without the catalytic converter were high (47-85 mg N m(-3)) which is typical for batch combustion of wood logs. Total PAH concentrations were lower (on average 0.8-fold), and chlorophenol and PCDD/F levels were substantially higher (4.3-fold and 8.7-fold, respectively) when the catalytic converter was used. Increase in the chlorophenol and PCDD/F concentrations was most likely due to the catalytic effect of the platinum and palladium. Platinum and palladium may catalyze chlorination of PCDD/Fs via the Deacon reaction or an oxidation process. The influence of emissions from wood combustion to human health and the environment is a sum of effects caused by different compounds formed in the combustion. Therefore, the usage of platinum and palladium based catalytic converters to reduce emissions from residential wood combustion should be critically evaluated before wide-range utilization of the technology.
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