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

Category: Aerosol and Atmospheric Chemistry

Volume: 19 | Issue: 10 | Pages: 2205-2221
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 emission and biomass burning, gas flaring remains the most uncertain. In this study, small-scale turbulent gas flaring was used to characterize particulate emissions produced under different operating conditions, such as various burner diameters and exit velocities. The composition of the fuel was also varied by modifying the percentage 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 was employed for analysis, and scanning electron microscopy showed the generated soot agglomerates to be composed of primary spherules that were 30 ± 10 nm in diameter. Additionally, high-resolution transmission electron microscopy, used to determine the length, tortuosity, and separation of individual graphene fringes on the primary particles, revealed a fullerenic, multiple-nuclei internal structure. Single-particle analysis revealed the dominance of elemental carbon vs. oxidized and metal-contaminated particles, and infrared spectroscopy showed the presence of alkanes and aromatics with oxygenated compounds. Intercomparing the microstructure and the composition, we also concluded that the vast majority of particles are hydrophobic.


Gas flaring Soot Fullerenic internal structure Graphitic content Elemental composition Hygroscopicity

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Accepted Manuscripts
DOI: 10.4209/aaqr.2019.06.0281