Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Kerosene lamps identified as big source of black carbon

Date:
November 28, 2012
Source:
University of California - Berkeley
Summary:
Kerosene lamps, the primary source of light for more than a billion people in developing nations, churns out black carbon at levels previously overlooked in greenhouse gas estimates, according to a new study. The new findings result in a twenty-fold increase to previous estimates of black carbon emissions from kerosene-fueled lighting. The good news is that affordable, cleaner alternatives exist.

The primary source of light for more than a billion people in developing nations is also churning out black carbon at levels previously overlooked in greenhouse gas estimates, according to a new study led by researchers at UC Berkeley and the University of Illinois.

Results from field and lab tests found that 7 to 9 percent of the kerosene in wick lamps -- used for light in 250-300 million households without electricity -- is converted to black carbon when burned. In comparison, only half of 1 percent of the emissions from burning wood is converted to black carbon.

Factoring in the new study results leads to a twenty-fold increase in estimates of black carbon emissions from kerosene-fueled lighting. The previous estimates come from established databases used by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and others. One kilogram of black carbon, a byproduct of incomplete combustion and an important greenhouse gas, produces as much warming in a month as 700 kilograms of carbon dioxide does over 100 years, the authors said.

"The orange glow in flames comes from black carbon, so the brighter the glow, the more black carbon is being made," said study principal investigator Tami Bond, associate professor of civil and environmental engineering at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. "If it's not burned away, it goes into the atmosphere."

The findings, published online this month in the journal Environmental Science & Technology, are coming out at the same time that the United Nations Climate Change Conference kicks off in Doha, Qatar. While officials from around the world are seeking effective policies and guidelines for cutting greenhouse gas emissions, the study authors note that the simple act of replacing kerosene lamps could pack a wallop toward that effort.

"There are no magic bullets that will solve all of our greenhouse gas problems, but replacing kerosene lamps is low-hanging fruit, and we don't have many examples of that in the climate world," said study co-author Kirk Smith, professor at UC Berkeley's School of Public Health and director of the Global Health and Environment Program. "There are many inexpensive, cleaner alternatives to kerosene lamps that are available now, and few if any barriers to switching to them."

Smith pointed to lanterns with light-emitting diodes that can be powered by solar cells or even advanced cookstoves that generate electricity from the heat produced. Such technology, said Smith, is already available in developing countries.

The researchers used kerosene lamps purchased in Uganda and Peru and conducted field experiments there to measure the emissions. They repeated the tests in the lab using wicks of varying heights and materials, and kerosene purchased in the United States as well as in Uganda.

The study authors noted that converting to cleaner light sources would not only benefit the planet, it would help improve people's health. A recent epidemiological study in Nepal led by Smith and other researchers at UC Berkeley's School of Public Health, for example, found that women who reported use of kerosene lamps in the home had 9.4 times the rate of tuberculosis compared with those who did not use such lamps.

"Getting rid of kerosene lamps may seem like a small, inconsequential step to take, but when considering the collective impact of hundreds of millions of households, it's a simple move that affects the planet," said study lead author Nicholas Lam, a UC Berkeley graduate student in environmental health sciences.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, U.S. Agency for International Development and Environmental Protection Agency helped support this research.


Story Source:

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


Journal Reference:

  1. Nicholas Lam, Yanju Chen, Cheryl Weyant, Chandra Venkataraman, Pankaj Sadavarte, Michael Johnson, Kirk R. Smith, Benjamin Brem, Joseph Arineitwe, Justin Ellis, Tami Bond. Household Light Makes Global Heat: High Black Carbon Emissions From Kerosene Wick Lamps. Environmental Science & Technology, 2012; 121119133048006 DOI: 10.1021/es302697h

Cite This Page:

University of California - Berkeley. "Kerosene lamps identified as big source of black carbon." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 28 November 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/11/121128183055.htm>.
University of California - Berkeley. (2012, November 28). Kerosene lamps identified as big source of black carbon. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 22, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/11/121128183055.htm
University of California - Berkeley. "Kerosene lamps identified as big source of black carbon." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/11/121128183055.htm (accessed July 22, 2014).

Share This




More Earth & Climate News

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

New Orleans Plans to Recycle Cigarette Butts

New Orleans Plans to Recycle Cigarette Butts

AP (July 21, 2014) New Orleans is the first U.S. city to participate in a large-scale recycling effort for cigarette butts. The city is rolling out dozens of containers for smokers to use when they discard their butts. (July 21) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Shark Sightings a Big Catch for Cape Tourism

Shark Sightings a Big Catch for Cape Tourism

AP (July 21, 2014) A rise in shark sightings along the shores of Chatham, Massachusetts is driving a surge of eager vacationers to the beach town looking to catch a glimpse of a great white. (July 21) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Spectacular Lightning Storm Hits London

Spectacular Lightning Storm Hits London

AFP (July 19, 2014) A spectaCular lightning storm struck the UK overnight Friday. Images of lightning strikes over the Shard and Tower Bridge in central London. Duration: 00:23 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
A Centuries' Old British Tradition Is Far from a Swan Song

A Centuries' Old British Tradition Is Far from a Swan Song

AFP (July 19, 2014) As if it weren't enough that the Queen is the Sovereign of the UK and 15 other Commonwealth realms, she is also the owner of all Britain's unmarked swans. Duration: 02:18 Video provided by AFP
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:
from the past week

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