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Microstructure and Chemical Composition of Particles from Small-scale Gas Flaring

Category: Aerosol and Atmospheric Chemistry

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DOI: 10.4209/aaqr.2019.04.0177

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Olga Popovicheva 1, Mikhail Timofeev1, Natalia Persiantseva1, Melina A. Jefferson2, Matthew Johnson2, Steven N. Rogak3, Alberto Baldelli3

  • 1 Skobeltsyn Institute of Nuclear Physics, Lomonosov Moscow State University, Moscow 119991, Russia
  • 2 Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, Carleton University, Ottawa, ON, K1S 5B6, Canada
  • 3 Department of Mechanical Engineering, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC, V6T 1Z4, Canada


  • Laboratory jet diffusion flame approaches a scale of a small industrial flare.
  • Light-hydrocarbon flaring mixtures produce many-scale topography of soot fractals.
  • Particle groups are elemental carbon, oxidized soot, and mixed with metal and dust.
  • Functionalized structure composed from alkanes and aromatics.
  • Hydrophobic particles dominate over hygroscopic.


Among globally relevant combustion sources, such as diesel emissions and biomass burning, gas flaring remains the most uncertain. A turbulent small-scale gas flaring is used to characterize particulate emissions produced at different flare conditions such as burner diameter, exit velocity, and fuel mixture. The fuel gas mixture is varied by modifying the percentages of methane, ethane, propane, butane, N2, and CO2, which are the predominant constituents in the upstream oil and gas industry. A broad suite of physical, chemical, and microscopic techniques characterizes the gas flaring properties. Scanning electron microscopy shows the soot agglomerates to be composed of primary spherules of 30 ± 10 nm. High Resolution Transmission Electron Microscopy was used to determine the length, tortuosity, and separation of individual graphene fringes in primary particles, revealing fullerenic-like, multiple-nuclei internal structure. Single-particle analysis reveals the dominant grouping of elemental carbon vs oxidized and mixed with contamination metals. Infrared spectroscopy showed the presence of alkanes and aromatics with oxygenated compounds. From the chemical and structural characterization, it is concluded that the vast majority of particles are hydrophobic. Intercomparing the gas flaring microstructure and composition addresses the typical features of high-temperature combustion of gaseous and fossil fuels.


Gas flaring Soot Fullerenic-like internal structure Graphitic content Elemental composition Hygroscopicity

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