Open-path fourier transform infrared studies of large-scale laboratory biomass fires

Robert J. Yokelson, David W.T. Griffith, Darold E. Ward

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305 Scopus citations


A series of nine large-scale, open fires was conducted in the Intermountain Fire Sciences Laboratory (IFSL) controlled-environment combustion facility. The fuels were pure pine needles or sagebrush or mixed fuels simulating forest-floor, ground fires; crown fires; broadcast burns; and slash pile burns. Mid-infrared spectra of the smoke were recorded throughout each fire by open path Fourier transform infrared (FTIR) spectroscopy at 0.12 cm-1 resolution over a 3 m cross-stack pathlength and analyzed to provide pseudocontinuous, simultaneous concentrations of up to 16 compounds. Simultaneous measurements were made of fuel mass loss, stack gas temperature, and total mass flow up the stack. The products detected are classified by the type of process that dominates in producing them. Carbon dioxide is the dominant emission of (and primarily produced by) flaming combustion, from which we also measure nitric oxide, nitrogen dioxide, sulfur dioxide, and most of the water vapor from combustion and fuel moisture. Carbon monoxide is the dominant emission formed primarily by smoldering combustion from which we also measure carbon dioxide, methane, ammonia, and ethane. A significant fraction of the total emissions is unoxidized pyrolysis products; examples are methanol, formaldehyde, acetic and formic acid, ethene (ethylene), ethyne (acetylene), and hydrogen cyanide. Relatively few previous data exist for many of these compounds and they are likely to have an important but as yet poorly understood role in plume chemistry. Large differences in emissions occur from different fire and fuel types, and the observed temporal behavior of the emissions is found to depend strongly on the fuel bed and product type.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)21067-21080
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research
Issue number15
StatePublished - Sep 20 1996


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