Environmental Science & Technology
Atmospheric Zn emissions from the burning of coal and tire-derived fuel (TDF) for power generation can be considerable. In an effort to lay the foundation for tracking these contributions, we evaluated the Zn isotopes of coal, a mixture of 95 wt % coal + 5 wt % TDF, and the particulate matter (PM) derived from their combustion in a power-generating plant. The average Zn concentrations and δ66Zn were 36 mg/kg and 183 mg/kg and +0.24‰ and +0.13‰ for the coal and coal + TDF, respectively. The δ66Zn of the PM sequestered in the cyclone-type mechanical separator was the lightest measured, −0.48‰ for coal and −0.81‰ for coal+TDF. The δ66Zn of the PM from the electrostatic precipitator showed a slight enrichment in the heavier Zn isotopes relative to the starting material. PM collected from the stack had the heaviest δ66Zn in the system, +0.63‰ and +0.50‰ for the coal and coal + TDF, respectively. Initial fractionation during the generation of a Zn-rich vapor is followed by temperature-dependent fractionation as Zn condenses onto the PM. The isotopic changes of the two fuel types are similar, suggesting that their inherent chemical differences have only a secondary impact on the isotopic fractionation process.
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