Size distribution of vehicle emitted primary particles measured in a traffic tunnel

Xiang Li, Timothy R. Dallmann, Andrew A. May, Charles O. Stanier, Andrew P. Grieshop, Eric M. Lipsky, Allen L. Robinson, Albert A. Presto

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


Total and size-resolved concentrations and emission factors are used to compare fleet-averaged vehicle emissions in Pittsburgh, PA in 2002 and 2014. Winter-time traffic tunnel measurements acquired using dual scanning mobility particle sizers (SMPS) over the size range 3–500 nm form the key input for the analysis. Size-resolved mass emission factors were calculated assuming a nanoparticle aggregate model. The ultrafine particle (<30 nm) emissions of diesel vehicles significantly dropped from 2002 to 2014. In the 2014 study, a thermodenuder (TD) was deployed together with the SMPS to measure emissions of non-volatile particles. After evaporation at 250 °C inside the TD, the median diameter of the number-size distribution shifted from 16 nm to ∼7 nm. The total particle number decreased significantly (69%) after evaporating inside the TD, indicating that vehicle emitted particles may be largely externally mixed and that a large fraction of these particles may be purely composed of volatile components. Based on the SMPS-TD measurements, we report a size-resolved volatile-to-non-volatile-component-ratio for vehicle emitted particles. It shows that smaller particles (10–60 nm) emitted by vehicles are dominantly (over 75%) composed of volatile components. We also apportioned the size-resolved particles and non-volatile particle mass and number emission factors for both gasoline and diesel vehicles. Diesel vehicles emitted significantly more ultrafine particles and non-volatile particles than gasoline vehicles.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)9-18
Number of pages10
JournalAtmospheric Environment
StatePublished - Oct 2018

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Environmental Science
  • Atmospheric Science


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