Investigation of aerosol and gas emissions from a coal-fired power plant under various operating conditions

Zhichao Li, Yang Wang, Yongqi Lu, Pratim Biswas

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The concentrations of fine particles and selected gas pollutants in the flue gas entering the stack were measured under several common operation modes in an operating coal power plant producing electricity. Particle size distributions in a diameter range from 10 nm to 20 μm were measured by a scanning mobility particle sizer (SMPS), and the flue gas temperature and concentrations of CO2 and SO2 were monitored by a continuous emission monitoring system (CEMS). During the test campaign, five plant operating modes were studied: soot blowing, bypass of flue-gas desulfurization (FGD), reheat burner operating at 0% (turned off), 27%, and 42% (normal condition) of its full capacity. For wet and dry aerosols, the measured mode sizes were both around 40 nm, but remarkable differences were observed in the number concentrations (#/cm3, count per square centimeter). A prototype photoionizer enhanced electrostatic precipitator (ESP) showed improved removal efficiency of wet particles at voltages above +11.0 kV. Soot blowing and FGD bypass both increased the total particle number concentration in the flue gas. The temperature was slightly increased by the FGD bypass mode and varied significantly as the rating of reheat burner changed. The variations of CO2 and SO2 emissions showed correlations with the trend of total particle number concentration possibly due to the transitions between gas and particle phases. The results are useful in developing coal-fired power plant operation strategies to control fine particle emissions and developing amine-based CO2 capture technologies without operating and environmental concerns associated with volatile amine emissions. Implications: The measurement of the fine particle size distributions in the exhaust gas under several common operating conditions of a coal-fired power plant revealed different response relations between aerosol number concentration and the operating condition. A photo-ionizer enhanced ESP was demonstrated to capture fine particles with higher efficiency compared to conventional ESPs, and the removal efficiency increased with the applied voltage. The characteristic information of aerosols and main gaseous pollutants in the exhaust gas is extremely important for developing and deploying CO2 scrubbers, whose amine emissions and operating effectiveness depends greatly on the upstream concentrations of fine particles, SO2, from the power plant.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)34-46
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of the Air and Waste Management Association
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2 2019

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Pollution
  • Atmospheric Science
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law


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