Micron and sub-micron scale black carbon particulate is a short-lived climate pollutant that is seen by many as the second most important class of anthropogenic climate forcing materials, behind carbon dioxide. Its origins are directly attributable to combustion of hydrocarbons and coal.
Most controlled combustion systems, such as vehicles and power plants, have black carbon mitigation strategies. Some exceptions continue to struggle in this regard. For example, marine transport and bio-derived fuels used in commercial aircraft. There are also uncontrolled combustion systems that are seen as the biggest emitters of black carbon, and these include the natural processes of wildfires (in particular, smoldering combustion) or the industrial process of flaring.
Flaring is the burning of unwanted combustible gases in the atmosphere in jet diffusion flames. At well-serviced facilities some black carbon mitigation strategies, such as air or steam assist systems exist, but the bulk of the 150 billion cubic meters of gases flared annually no mitigation method exist.
This project is first trying to quantify the amount and nature of black carbon emitted from flares, but to also understand the fundamentals of black carbon formation that can be applied in other situations.