Variations in δ13C values of levoglucosan from low-temperature burning of lignite and biomass

Maciej Rybicki, Leszek Marynowski, Achim Bechtel, Bernd R.T. Simoneit

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Levoglucosan, an anhydrosaccharide, is commonly used as an organic tracer for biomass burning, but has also been identified from coal smoke particulate matter (PM) including lignites. Here we showed that stable carbon isotope analysis specifically of levoglucosan may be one possible way to determine the relative contributions from coal combustion versus biomass burning sources. PM samples were collected from low-temperature burning/smoldering of Miocene lignites from Poland and basket willow (Salix viminalis L.) representative of biomass. The calculated levoglucosan δ 13C values of xylites varied from −23.6 to −21.6‰, while for detritic coal samples they ranged from −24.2 to −23.1‰, with means of −22.7 and −23.7‰, respectively. The calculated levoglucosan δ 13C value of basket willow wood was −27.1‰. Values of willow wood mixtures with xylite varied from −25.8 to −23.4‰ (with an increasing proportion of xylite), while values of mixtures of willow and detritic coal ranged from −26.9 to −24.6‰ (with an increasing proportion of detritic coal). The δ 13C values for the mixtures changed proportionally to the contents of individual components with R 2 = 0.88 and 0.89 for willow with xylite and detritic coal, respectively. The hopanoid distributions characteristic for low-temperature lignite/peat burning, with a predominance of 22R-α,β-homohopane, ββ-hopanes and hopenes, as well as low or very low values of the homohopane index, were observed in smoke PM from most lignite samples and absent in the basket willow sample. Thus, the relatively high content of hopanes (with the occurrence of 22R-α,β-homohopane, ββ-hopanes and hopenes) in atmospheric PM samples can be treated as additional tracers of lignite combustion.

Original languageEnglish
Article number138991
Number of pages7
JournalScience of the total environment
Issue number1 September
Early online date7 May 2020
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2020

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