[Knighton2012] "Direct measurement of volatile organic compound emissions from industrial flares using real-time online techniques: Proton Transfer Reaction Mass Spectrometry and Tunable Infrared Laser Differential Absorption Spectroscopy",
Industrial & Engineering Chemistry Research
, vol. 51, no. 39: ACS Publications, pp. 12674–12684, 2012.
During the 2010 Comprehensive Flare Study a suite of analytical instrumentation was employed to monitor and quantify in real-time the volatile organic compound (VOC) emissions emanating from an industrial chemical process flare burning either propene/natural gas or propane/natural gas. To our knowledge this represents the first time the VOC composition has been directly measured as a function of flare efficiency on an operational full-scale flare. This compositional information was obtained using a suite of proton-transfer-reaction mass spectrometers (PTR-MS) and quantum cascade laser tunable infrared differential absorption spectrometers (QCL-TILDAS) to measure the unburned fuel and associated combustion byproducts. Methane, ethyne, ethene, and formaldehyde were measured using the QC-TILDAS. Propene, acetaldehyde, methanol, benzene, acrolein, and the sum of the C3H6O isomers were measured with the PTR-MS. A second PTR-MS equipped with a gas chromatograph (GC) was operated in parallel and was used to verify the identity of the neutral components that were responsible for producing the ions monitored with the first PTR-MS. Additional components including 1,3-butadiene and C3H4 (propyne or allene) were identified using the GC/PTR-MS. The propene concentrations derived from the PTR-MS were found to agree with measurements made using a conventional GC with a flame ionization detector (FID). The VOC product (excludes fuel components) speciation profile is more dependent on fuel composition, propene versus propane, than on flare type, air-assisted versus steam-assisted, and is essentially constant with respect to combustion efficiency for combustion efficiencies >0.8. Propane flares produce more alkenes with ethene and propene accounting for approximately 80% (per carbon basis) of the VOC combustion product. The propene partial combustion product profile was observed to contain relatively more oxygenated material where formaldehyde and acetaldehyde are major contributors and account for 20 - 25% of VOC product carbon. Steam-assisted flares produce less ethyne and benzene than air-assisted flares. This observation is consistent with the understanding that steam assisted flares are more efficient at reducing soot, which is formed via the same reaction mechanisms that form benzene and ethyne.