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VOCs Emissions from Multiple Wood Pellet Types and Concentrations in Indoor Air
Filetype[PDF - 908.15 KB]


Details:
  • Pubmed ID:
    27022205
  • Pubmed Central ID:
    PMC4807404
  • Funding:
    CC999999/Intramural CDC HHS/United States
  • Document Type:
  • Collection(s):
  • Description:
    Wood pellet storage safety is an important aspect for implementing woody biomass as a renewable energy source. When wood pellets are stored indoors in large quantities (tons) in poorly ventilated spaces in buildings, such as in basements, off-gassing of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) can significantly affect indoor air quality. To determine the emission rates and potential impact of VOC emissions, a series of laboratory and field measurements were conducted using softwood, hardwood, and blended wood pellets manufactured in New York. Evacuated canisters were used to collect air samples from the headspace of drums containing pellets and then in basements and pellet storage areas of homes and small businesses. Multiple peaks were identified during GC/MS and GC/FID analysis, and four primary VOCs were characterized and quantified: methanol, pentane, pentanal, and hexanal. Laboratory results show that total VOCs (TVOCs) concentrations for softwood (SW) were statistically (p < 0.02) higher than blended or hardwood (HW) (SW: 412 ± 25; blended: 203 ± 4; HW: 99 ± 8, ppb). The emission rate from HW was the fastest, followed by blended and SW, respectively. Emissions rates were found to range from 10(-1) to 10(-5) units, depending upon environmental factors. Field measurements resulted in airborne concentrations ranging from 67 ± 8 to 5000 ± 3000 ppb of TVOCs and 12 to 1500 ppb of aldehydes, with higher concentrations found in a basement with a large fabric bag storage unit after fresh pellet delivery and lower concentrations for aged pellets. These results suggest that large fabric bag storage units resulted in a substantial release of VOCs into the building air. Occupants of the buildings tested discussed concerns about odor and sensory irritation when new pellets were delivered. The sensory response was likely due to the aldehydes.