Environmental Science and Pollution Research

, Volume 25, Issue 23, pp 22775–22789 | Cite as

Characterising boiler ash from a circulating fluidised bed municipal solid waste incinerator and distribution of PCDD/F and PCB

  • Mengmei Zhang
  • Alfons Buekens
  • Xiaodong LiEmail author
Research Article


In this study, ash samples were collected from five locations situated in the boiler of a circulating fluidised bed municipal solid waste incinerator (high- and low-temperature superheater, evaporator tubes and upper and lower economiser). These samples represent a huge range of flue gas temperatures and were characterised for their particle size distribution, surface characteristics, elemental composition, chemical forms of carbon and chlorine and distribution of polychlorinated dibenzo-p-dioxins (PCDD), dibenzofurans (PCDF) and biphenyls (PCB). Enrichment of chlorine, one of the main elements of organochlorinated pollutants, and copper, zinc and lead, major catalytic metals for dioxin-like compounds, was observed in lower-temperature ash deposits. The speciation of carbon and chlorine on ash surfaces was established, showing a positive correlation between organic chlorine and oxygen-containing carbon functional groups. The load of PCDD/F and PCB (especially dioxin-like PCB) tends to rise rapidly with falling temperature of flue gas, reaching their highest value in economiser ashes. The formation of PCDD/F congeners through the chlorophenol precursor route apparently was enhanced downstream the boiler. Principal component analysis (PCA) was applied to study the links between the ash characteristics and distribution of chloro-aromatics. The primary purpose of this study is improving the understanding of any links between the characteristics of ash from waste heat systems and its potential to form PCDD/F and PCB. The question is raised whether further characterisation of fly ash may assist to establish a diagnosis of poor plant operation, inclusive the generation, destruction and eventual emission of persistent organic pollutants (POPs).


Boiler ash Circulating fluidised bed (CFB) Municipal solid waste incineration (MSWI) Chlorine speciation Carbon speciation Polychlorinated dibenzo-p-dioxins (PCDD) Polychlorinated dibenzofurans (PCDF) Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCB) 



The first author is at present a research student in the group of Prof. Masaki Takaoka and Dr. Takashi Fujimori (Kyoto University) and greatly appreciates their encouragement, guidance and support.

Funding information

This study was financed by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (51706201), the National Key Research and Development Programme of China (2017YFC0703100), the Science Fund for Creative Research Groups of the National Natural Science Foundation of China (51621005) and the Pao Yu-Kong International Fund.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.State Key Laboratory of Clean Energy Utilization, Institute for Thermal Power EngineeringZhejiang UniversityHangzhouChina
  2. 2.Vrije Universiteit BrusselBrusselsBelgium

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