Primary particle emissions from residential coal burning: Optical properties and size distributions

Tami C. Bond, David S. Covert, John C. Kramlich, Timothy V. Larson, Robert J. Charlson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Particles generated by combustion of fossil fuels contribute to climate forcing by absorbing and scattering visible light. Residential combustion takes place in homes for heating or cooking purposes and is thought to contribute a large fraction of the global burden of anthropogenic primary particles. We present optical properties and size distributions of particulate matter emitted from three types of coal burned in residential combustors: bituminous coal, hard coal briquettes, and lignite. Emissions from these coals differ significantly and can be partially explained by differences in coal composition. For bituminous coal, particulate matter emission factors are somewhat greater than those used in current emission inventories. We observe particles for which the light absorption is weak and has a strong spectral dependence. For hard coal briquettes and lignite, emitted light absorption is low, and based on our measurements, current inventories of light-absorbing aerosols significantly overestimate the contribution from these sources. Hard coal briquettes produce very few particles in the optically active size range. For all coals tested the size distributions required to represent the average of the emitted particles are broader than atmospheric size distributions, with geometric standard deviations between 2.2 and 3.0.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number8347
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research Atmospheres
Issue number21
StatePublished - Nov 2002
Externally publishedYes


  • Aerosols
  • Emissions
  • Optical properties
  • Residential coal
  • Size distributions

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Materials Chemistry
  • Polymers and Plastics
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry


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