Oxidation of siloxanes during biogas combustion and nanotoxicity of Si-based particles released to the atmosphere

Environ Toxicol Pharmacol. 2014 Jan;37(1):166-73. doi: 10.1016/j.etap.2013.11.020. Epub 2013 Dec 1.


Siloxanes have been detected in the biogas produced at municipal solid waste landfills and wastewater treatment plants. When oxidized, siloxanes are converted to silicon oxides. The objectives of this study were to evaluate the transformation of siloxanes and potential nanotoxicity of Si-based particles released to the atmosphere from the gas engines which utilize biogas. Data available from nanotoxicity studies were used to assess the potential health risks associated with the inhalation exposure to Si-based nanoparticles. Silicon dioxide formed from siloxanes can range from 5 nm to about 100 nm in diameter depending on the combustion temperature and particle clustering characteristics. In general, silicon dioxide particles formed during from combustion process are typically 40-70 nm in diameter and can be described as fibrous dusts and as carcinogenic, mutagenic, astmagenic or reproductive toxic (CMAR) nanoparticles. Nanoparticles deposit in the upper respiratory system, conducting airways, and the alveoli. Size ranges between 5 and 50 nm show effective deposition in the alveoli where toxic effects are higher. In this study the quantities for the SiO₂ formed and release during combustion of biogas were estimated based on biogas utilization characteristics (gas compositions, temperature). The exposure to Si-based particles and potential effects in humans were analyzed in relation to their particle size, release rates and availability in the atmosphere. The analyses showed that about 54.5 and 73 kg/yr of SiO₂ can be released during combustion of biogas containing D4 and D5 at 14.1 mg/m(3) (1 ppm) and 15.1 mg/m(3) (1ppm), respectively, per MW energy yield.

Keywords: Biogas; Health risk; Nanoparticles; Nanotoxicity; Silica; Siloxanes.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Air Pollutants / toxicity*
  • Biofuels*
  • Nanoparticles / toxicity*
  • Oxidation-Reduction
  • Silicon Dioxide / toxicity*
  • Siloxanes / chemistry*
  • Waste Disposal Facilities*


  • Air Pollutants
  • Biofuels
  • Siloxanes
  • Silicon Dioxide