Articles | Volume 14, issue 9
Research article
13 May 2014
Research article |  | 13 May 2014

Secondary organic aerosol production from diesel vehicle exhaust: impact of aftertreatment, fuel chemistry and driving cycle

T. D. Gordon, A. A. Presto, N. T. Nguyen, W. H. Robertson, K. Na, K. N. Sahay, M. Zhang, C. Maddox, P. Rieger, S. Chattopadhyay, H. Maldonado, M. M. Maricq, and A. L. Robinson

Abstract. Environmental chamber ("smog chamber") experiments were conducted to investigate secondary organic aerosol (SOA) production from dilute emissions from two medium-duty diesel vehicles (MDDVs) and three heavy-duty diesel vehicles (HDDVs) under urban-like conditions. Some of the vehicles were equipped with emission control aftertreatment devices, including diesel particulate filters (DPFs), selective catalytic reduction (SCR) and diesel oxidation catalysts (DOCs). Experiments were also performed with different fuels (100% biodiesel and low-, medium- or high-aromatic ultralow sulfur diesel) and driving cycles (Unified Cycle,~Urban Dynamometer Driving Schedule, and creep + idle). During normal operation, vehicles with a catalyzed DPF emitted very little primary particulate matter (PM). Furthermore, photooxidation of dilute emissions from these vehicles produced essentially no SOA (below detection limit). However, significant primary PM emissions and SOA production were measured during active DPF regeneration experiments. Nevertheless, under reasonable assumptions about DPF regeneration frequency, the contribution of regeneration emissions to the total vehicle emissions is negligible, reducing PM trapping efficiency by less than 2%. Therefore, catalyzed DPFs appear to be very effective in reducing both primary PM emissions and SOA production from diesel vehicles. For both MDDVs and HDDVs without aftertreatment substantial SOA formed in the smog chamber – with the emissions from some vehicles generating twice as much SOA as primary organic aerosol after 3 h of oxidation at typical urban VOC / NOx ratios (3 : 1). Comprehensive organic gas speciation was performed on these emissions, but less than half of the measured SOA could be explained by traditional (speciated) SOA precursors. The remainder presumably originates from the large fraction (~30%) of the nonmethane organic gas emissions that could not be speciated using traditional one-dimensional gas chromatography. The unspeciated organics – likely comprising less volatile species such as intermediate volatility organic compounds – appear to be important SOA precursors; we estimate that the effective SOA yield (defined as the ratio of SOA mass to reacted precursor mass) was 9 ± 6% if both speciated SOA precursors and unspeciated organics are included in the analysis. SOA production from creep + idle operation was 3–4 times larger than SOA production from the same vehicle operated over the Urban Dynamometer Driving Schedule (UDDS). Fuel properties had little or no effect on primary PM emissions or SOA formation.

Final-revised paper