Properties and emission factors of cloud condensation nuclei from biomass cookstoves - Observations of a strong dependency on potassium content in the fuel

Thomas Bjerring Kristensen, John Falk, Robert Lindgren, Christina Andersen, Vilhelm B. Malmborg, Axel C. Eriksson, Kimmo Korhonen, Ricardo Luis Carvalho, Christoffer Boman, Joakim Pagels, Birgitta Svenningsson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Residential biomass combustion is a significant source of aerosol particles on regional and global scales influencing climate and human health. The main objective of the current study was to investigate the properties of cloud condensation nuclei (CCN) emitted from biomass burning of solid fuels in different cookstoves mostly of relevance to sub- Saharan east Africa. The traditional three-stone fire and a rocket stove were used for combustion of wood logs of Sesbania and Casuarina with birch used as a reference. A natural draft and a forced-draft pellet stove were used for combustion of pelletised Sesbania and pelletised Swedish softwood alone or in mixtures with pelletised coffee husk, rice husk or water hyacinth. The CCN activity and the effective density were measured for particles with mobility diameters of v65, v100 and v200 nm, respectively, and occasionally for 350 nm particles. Particle number size distributions were measured online with a fast particle analyser. The chemical composition of the fuel ash was measured by application of standard protocols. The average particle number size distributions were by number typically dominated by an ultrafine mode, and in most cases a soot mode was centred around a mobility diameter of v150 nm. The CCN activities decreased with increasing particle size for all experiments and ranged in terms of the hygroscopicity parameter, from v0:1 to v0:8 for the ultrafine mode and from v0:001 to v0:15 for the soot mode. The CCN activity of the ultrafine mode increased (i) with increasing combustion temperature for a given fuel, and (ii) it typically increased with increasing potassium concentration in the investigated fuels. The primary CCN and the estimated particulate matter (PM) emission factors were typically found to increase significantly with increasing potassium concentration in the fuel for a given stove. In order to link CCN emission factors to PM emission factors, knowledge about stove technology, stove operation and the inorganic fuel ash composition is needed. This complicates the use of ambient PM levels alone for estimation of CCN concentrations in regions dominated by biomass combustion aerosol, with the relation turning even more complex when accounting for atmospheric ageing of the aerosol.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)8023-8044
Number of pages22
JournalAtmospheric Chemistry and Physics
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 2021 May 26

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Meteorology and Atmospheric Sciences


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