Air quality in Lesser Poland

Air pollution is a very serious problem in Lesser Poland. In addition to industrial and automotive pollution, an important factor is household tanning, among others coal and wood, so-called solid fuels. Improper smoking in a home boiler leads to the formation of large amounts of soot, which in turn can have a number of unpleasant consequences. Soot is a complex substance with a variable composition, but it always includes fly ash, which can create difficult to remove deposits. In turn, when coking coals are burned, soot is formed that contains tar.

If soot builds up in the chimney flues, this can lead to undesirable consequences and even serious risks. Above all, it is dangerous to ignite the soot in the smoke ducts, which almost always ends in a building fire. Soot deposits also lead to increased demand for fuel and reduced boiler efficiency, as well as reduced chimney draft and even duct obstruction. What's more, the amount of toxic carbon monoxide (carbon monoxide) in the exhaust gas and the amount of volatile substances that negatively affect air quality may also increase. This means that excess soot is harmful to both the household heated in this way and to the entire environment.

How to prevent soot in the chimney flues? First of all, its formation should be limited. Carbon black is created if the combustion temperature is too low and volatiles do not oxidize to a large extent. This type of combustion can be recognized by the fact that it produces thick, smelly smoke, which affects air pollution and contributes to the formation of smog. Therefore, at present, attempts are being made to fight the formation of large amounts of soot by using special substances that catalyze the combustion of fuels as a whole, and also reduce the temperature at which the soot is oxidized.

This is how the ecological solid fuel additive works, which was created by scientists from the Jagiellonian University. The calculated small amount of this substance (0,5-2 kg per 1000 kg of fuel) is introduced about once a week into the combustion chamber along with the fuel or placed on its surface. This additive is designed specifically for use in households and can be used in low-power boilers fired with both wood and coal, lignite, coal, coal, anthracite, coke, peat, briquette or pellet. Activation of the components of this fuel additive starts at 80 degrees Celsius. The substances contained in it then begin to decompose with the release of oxygen, catalyzing the reactions of complete combustion of fuel. As a result, soot begins to burn already at a temperature of 300 degrees, although normally a minimum of 700 degrees Celsius is needed. This, in turn, leads to burning off the soot deposit covering the heat exchanger.

This supplement is distinguished primarily by the fact that it is ecological and environmentally friendly. It is not pathogenic and does not itself contain compounds harmful to air quality. It limits the production of soot, which, as indicated above, improves the boiler efficiency and combustion efficiency of solid fuels, and by reducing the soot combustion temperature prevents its deposition in chimney flues. It also stops the release of pollutants associated with soot, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), persistent organic radicals and heavy metals. Interestingly, this particular fuel additive also modifies the soot composition, making its components not only biodegradable, but also stimulating the development of plants.

The design of an ecological additive to solid fuels to reduce soot is the subject of a patent application. The product is ready for launch, which is why the CITTRU Technology Transfer Center is looking for entities from the ecological and energy industry interested in obtaining a license for the above material and its application.

Author: Katarzyna Nowacka

The article was prepared as part of the ProBio Małopolska project