Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Measurements of CO2 and CO in China's air indicate sharply improved combustion efficiency

Date:
October 8, 2010
Source:
Harvard University
Summary:
A collaborative, six-year study of carbon dioxide levels in Beijing and surrounding provinces suggests that combustion efficiency, a component of overall energy efficiency, is improving in the region. The findings are generally consistent with official Chinese government statistics and could bolster their credibility as international negotiations proceed on commitments of China and other nations to combat climate change.

A collaborative, six-year study of carbon dioxide (CO2) levels in Beijing and surrounding provinces suggests that combustion efficiency, a component of overall energy efficiency, is improving in the region.

Related Articles


The findings, published in the Sept. 21 issue of Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics, are generally consistent with official Chinese government statistics and could bolster their credibility as international negotiations proceed on commitments of China and other nations to combat climate change.

A team of atmospheric scientists and environmental engineers from Harvard University and Tsinghua University in Beijing have continuously measured atmospheric CO2 and carbon monoxide (CO) levels in rural Miyun, about 100 km northeast of Beijing, since November 2004.

Weather observations such as wind speed and direction (with other evidence) allowed researchers to identify plumes of polluted air from the Beijing urban area and population centers to the south, as opposed to relatively clean air arriving from the north.

The measurements provide the most detailed look at carbon emissions for a specific urbanized and industrialized region of China to date. Moreover, the resulting analysis of CO2 and CO levels is generally consistent with China's official statistics, showing an upward trend in overall energy efficiency.

"The Chinese government committed to improve energy efficiency in its 11th Five-Year Plan (2006-2010), and this study shows how independent quantitative evidence of its progress can be inferred from the chemistry of its air," said co-author Chris P. Nielsen, Executive Director of the Harvard China Project, based at Harvard's School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS).

The Harvard and Tsinghua researchers analyzed the ratio of CO2 to CO at Miyun to evaluate energy efficiency in Beijing.

"Fuel combustion 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 study -- and while controlling for daily, seasonal, and weather-induced fluctuations -- the 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.

"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 postdoctoral studies at EPS and SEAS, at Harvard.

Wang, Munger, and Nielsen's co-authors include Shicheng Xu, Jiming Hao, and Hong Ma, from the Department of Environmental Science and Engineering and State Key Joint Laboratory of Environment Simulation and Pollution at Tsinghua University in Beijing; and Michael B. McElroy, Gilbert Butler Professor of Environmental Studies at the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences and the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences at Harvard University. McElroy is also Chair of the Harvard China Project.

The Harvard China Project is a research program focused on China's atmospheric environment, collaborating across schools of Harvard University and with Chinese universities. It conducts interdisciplinary, peer-reviewed studies related to air pollution and greenhouse gases in China, designed to build knowledge and research capacities to help align China's domestic priorities on environment and development with equitable international strategies on climate change. For more information, visit http://chinaproject.harvard.edu.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Harvard University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Y. Wang, J. W. Munger, S. Xu, M. B. McElroy, J. Hao, C. P. Nielsen, H. Ma. CO2 and its correlation with CO at a rural site near Beijing: implications for combustion efficiency in China. Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics, 2010; 10 (18): 8881 DOI: 10.5194/acp-10-8881-2010

Cite This Page:

Harvard University. "Measurements of CO2 and CO in China's air indicate sharply improved combustion efficiency." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 8 October 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/10/101008105850.htm>.
Harvard University. (2010, October 8). Measurements of CO2 and CO in China's air indicate sharply improved combustion efficiency. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 22, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/10/101008105850.htm
Harvard University. "Measurements of CO2 and CO in China's air indicate sharply improved combustion efficiency." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/10/101008105850.htm (accessed December 22, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Earth & Climate News

Monday, December 22, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

New Fish Species Discovered, Setting Record for World's Deepest

New Fish Species Discovered, Setting Record for World's Deepest

Buzz60 (Dec. 22, 2014) A new species of fish is discovered living five miles beneath the ocean surface, making it the deepest living fish on earth. Jen Markham has the story. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Lava Inches Closer to Highway

Raw: Lava Inches Closer to Highway

AP (Dec. 21, 2014) Officials have opened a new road on Hawaii's Big Island for drivers to take care of their daily needs if encroaching lava from Kilauea Volcano crosses a highway and cuts them off from the rest of the island. (Dec. 20) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Could Cheap Oil Help Fix U.S. Roads?

Could Cheap Oil Help Fix U.S. Roads?

Newsy (Dec. 21, 2014) As falling oil prices boost Americans' spending power, the U.S. government is also gaining flexibility from savings on oil. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Russian Surfers Brave Icy Cold Waters

Raw: Russian Surfers Brave Icy Cold Waters

AP (Dec. 20, 2014) Surfers in Russia's biggest port city on the Pacific Ocean, Vladivostok, were enjoying the sport on Saturday despite below freezing temperatures and icy cold waters. (Dec. 20) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins