Indexed on: 27 Apr '12Published on: 27 Apr '12Published in: Environmental Science & Technology
Emission properties and quantities from combustion sources can vary significantly during operation, and this characteristic variability is hidden in the traditional presentation of emission test averages. As a complement to the emission test averages, we introduce the notion of statistical pattern analysis to characterize temporal fluctuations in emissions, using cluster analysis and frequency plots. We demonstrate this approach by comparing emissions from traditional and improved wood-burning cookstoves under in-field conditions, and also to contrast laboratory and in-field cookstove performance. Compared with traditional cookstoves, improved cookstoves eliminate emissions that occur at low combustion efficiency. For cookstoves where the only improvement is an insulated combustion chamber, this change results in emission of more light-absorbing (black) particles. When a chimney is added, the stoves produce more black particles but also have reduced emission factors. Laboratory tests give different results than in-field tests, because they fail to reproduce a significant fraction of low-efficiency events, spikes in particulate matter (PM) emissions, and less-absorbing particles. These conditions should be isolated and replicated in future laboratory testing protocols to ensure that stove designs are relevant to in-use operation.