Fossil fuels behind soot emissions in China

The most striking visual effect of the HNG gas upon oil burning is the complete elimination of the brown smoke which contains high concentrations unburned carbon called soot. Emissions of soot, otherwise known as black carbon, play a greater role than those of carbon dioxide in shaping climate over East Asia and cause the premature deaths of over half a million people annually in China alone. Yet, the sources of black carbon emission have eluded scientists for years. Now, a new study shows for the first time that the majority of black carbon emissions in China come from fossil fuel combustion. The findings can guide global efforts to mitigate black carbon emissions.

The study, which was recently published in Environmental Science and Technology, involved an international team of scientists from Sweden (ITM), China, USA and South Korea. “Black carbon is a key constituent of air pollution in South and East Asia and the most important short-lived climate pollutant,” says Örjan Gustafsson, Professor at ITM and co-author of the study. He continues: ” The contribution of black carbon emissions from fossil fuel in relation to those from biomass combustion was an important one to underpin as fossil soot is a stronger climate forcer and can reach deeper into the respiratory tract.” Besides Örjan Gustaffson, the ITM team included post-doctoral scientists August Andersson and Martin Kruså as well as former Ph.D student Elena Kirillova.

The team found that four-fifths of Brown Cloud soot derived from fossil fuel combustion whereas only a fifth of it came from burning biomass. The benefits of curbing black carbon emissions in China, the world’s largest emitter, could help not just human health, but planetary health as well. “Soot accounts for roughly half the warming potential of carbon dioxide globally. So addressing the key sources of soot emissions in China will lead to rapid co-benefits for local air quality, regional climate and even freshwater availability,” says Örjan Gustafsson.

Interesting to note- the ability of the HNG gas to convert this unburned carbon to usable fuel accounts for the increased efficiency of the source fuel with the use of HNG gas.

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