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Measurements of CO2 and CO in China's air indicate sharply improved combustion efficiency
Date:10/8/2010

releases energy by converting carbon to CO2, but some is only converted to CO, losing some of the available chemical energy. High-efficiency combustion processes, such as modern power plants and cars that meet current standards, produce little or no CO, and are thus both more energy-efficient and cleaner," said co-author J. William Munger, Senior Research Fellow at SEAS and at Harvard's Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences (EPS). "Inefficient processes like wood- and coal-burning in domestic stoves convert less than 90 percent of the carbon fuel to CO2, releasing the remainder as CO and wasting some of the energy. The combustion of outmoded industrial processes can fall somewhere in the middle. Knowing this, there's a lot we can learn from this chemical ratio in the air about combustion efficiency on the ground."

Over the period of studyand while controlling for daily, seasonal, and weather-induced fluctuationsthe data trends indicated increasing combustion efficiency in the Beijing region. Modernization of industrial boilers, replacing old vehicles with new ones meeting stricter standards, and closing of older industrial facilities can all contribute to this trend. (For more information, see the supplementary materials: http://www.seas.harvard.edu/news-events/images/Fact-Sheet.pdf.)

"The data indicate a trend toward cleaner, more efficient combustion in the Beijing region over several years leading up to the 2008 Olympics "when the government instituted particularly strict controls on pollution"and as far as we can tell so far, these gains have been maintained since the Olympics," said Munger.

The lead author of the study, Yuxuan Wang, is an Associate Professor in the Department of Environmental Science and Engineering at Tsinghua University and Principal Investigator of the Miyun atmospheric observatory. She completed her Ph.D. and po
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Contact: Caroline Perry
cperry@seas.harvard.edu
617-496-3815
Harvard University
Source:Eurekalert

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