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The immersion freezing behavior of ash particles from wood and brown coal burning

Journal article
Authors S. Grawe
S. Augustin-Bauditz
S. Hartmann
L. Hellner
Jan B. C. Pettersson
A. Prager
F. Stratmann
H. Wex
Published in Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics
Volume 16
Issue 21
Pages 13911-13928
ISSN 1680-7316
Publication year 2016
Published at Department of Chemistry and Molecular Biology
Pages 13911-13928
Language en
Links dx.doi.org/10.5194/acp-16-13911-201...
Keywords heterogeneous ice nucleation, scanning-electron-microscopy, mixed-phase, clouds, power-plant plume, fly-ash, mineral dust, leaching, characteristics, cirrus temperatures, kaolinite particles, aqueous-solutions, Meteorology & Atmospheric Sciences
Subject categories Chemical Sciences


It is generally known that ash particles from coal combustion can trigger ice nucleation when they interact with water vapor and/or supercooled droplets. However, data on the ice nucleation of ash particles from different sources, including both anthropogenic and natural combustion processes, are still scarce. As fossil energy sources still fuel the largest proportion of electric power production worldwide, and biomass burning contributes significantly to the global aerosol loading, further data are needed to better assess the ice nucleating efficiency of ash particles. In the framework of this study, we found that ash particles from brown coal (i.e., lignite) burning are up to 2 orders of magnitude more ice active in the immersion mode below -32 degrees C than those from wood burning. Fly ash from a coal-fired power plant was shown to be the most efficient at nucleating ice. Furthermore, the influence of various particle generation methods on the freezing behavior was studied. For instance, particles were generated either by dispersion of dry sample material, or by atomization of ash-water suspensions, and then led into the Leipzig Aerosol Cloud Interaction Simulator (LACIS) where the immersion freezing behavior was examined. Whereas the immersion freezing behavior of ashes from wood burning was not affected by the particle generation method, it depended on the type of particle generation for ash from brown coal. It was also found that the common practice of treating prepared suspensions in an ultrasonic bath to avoid aggregation of particles led to an enhanced ice nucleation activity. The findings of this study suggest (a) that ash from brown coal burning may influence immersion freezing in clouds close to the source and (b) that the freezing behavior of ash particles may be altered by a change in sample preparation and/or particle generation.

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