Semivolatile and Volatile Organic Compound Emissions from Wood-Fired Hydronic Heaters

Emissions including polychlorinated dibenzo-p-dioxins (PCDDs) and polychlorinated dibenzofurans (PCDFs), polyaromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), and volatile organic compounds (VOCs), were sampled from different wood-fired hydronic heater (HH) technologies. Four commercially available HH technologies were studied: a single-stage conventional combustor with natural updraft, a three-stage downdraft combustion system, a bottom-fed pellet burner, and a two-stage heater with both a combustion and gasification chamber. The fuel consisted of three wood types (red oak, white pine, and white ash), one hardwood pellet brand, and one fuel mixture containing 95% red oak and 5% residential refuse by weight. The various HHs and fuel combinations were tested in a realistic homeowner fuel-charging scenario. Differences in emission levels were found between HH technologies and fuel types. PCDD/PCDF emissions ranged from 0.004 to 0.098 ng toxic equivalency/MJinput and PAHs from 0.49 to 54 mg/MJinput. The former was increased by the presence of 5% by weight refuse. The white pine fuel had the highest PAH emission factor, while the bottom fed pellet burner had the lowest. The major VOCs emitted were benzene, acetylene, and propylene. The highest emissions of PAHs, VOCs, and PCDDs/PCDFs were observed with the conventional unit, likely due to the rapid changes in combustion conditions effected by the damper opening and closing.