Characterization of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon particulate and gaseous emissions from polystyrene combustion

Susan K. Durlak, Pratim Biswas, Jichun Shi, Mary Jo Bernhard

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89 Scopus citations


The partitioning of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) between the particulate and gaseous phases resulting from the combustion of polystyrene was studied. A vertical tubular flow furnace was used to incinerate polystyrene spheres (100-300 μm) at different combustion temperatures (800- 1200 °C) to determine the effect of temperature and polystyrene feed size on the particulate and gaseous emissions and their chemical composition. The furnace reactor exhaust was sampled using real-time instruments (differential mobility particle sizer and/or optical particle counter) to determine the particle size distribution. For chemical composition analyses, the particles were either collected on Teflon filters or split into eight size fractions using a cascade impactor with filter media substrates, while the gaseous products were collected on XAD-2 adsorbent. Gas chromatography/mass spectroscopy (GC/MS) was used to identify and quantify the specific PAH species, their partitioning between the gas and particulate phases, and their distribution as a function of emission particle size. The total mass and number of PAH species in both the particulate and gas phases were found to decrease with increasing incineration temperature and decreasing polystyrene feed size, while the mean diameter of the particles increases with increasing incineration temperature and decreasing feed size. In addition, the PAH species in the particulate phase were found to be concentrated in the smaller aerosol sizes. The experimental results have been analyzed to elucidate the formation mechanisms of PAHs and particles during polystyrene combustion. The implications of these results are also discussed with respect to the control of PAH emissions from municipal waste-to-energy incineration systems.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2301-2307
Number of pages7
JournalEnvironmental Science and Technology
Issue number15
StatePublished - Aug 1 1998
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Chemistry(all)
  • Environmental Chemistry


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