Effects of vehicle type and fuel quality on real world toxic emissions from diesel vehicles

Peter F. Nelson*, Anne R. Tibbett, Stuart J. Day

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    105 Citations (Scopus)


    Diesel vehicles are an important source of emissions of air pollutants, particularly oxides of nitrogen (NOx), particulate matter (PM), and toxic compounds with potential health impacts including volatile organic compounds (VOCs) such as benzene and aldehydes, and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). Current developments in engine design and fuel quality are expected to reduce these emissions in the future, but many vehicles exceed 10 years of age and may make a major contribution to urban pollutant concentrations and related health impacts for many years. In this study, emissions of a range of toxic compounds are reported using in-service vehicles which were tested using urban driving cycles developed for Australian conditions. Twelve vehicles were chosen from six vehicle weight classes and, in addition, two of these vehicles were driven through the urban drive cycle using a range of diesel fuel formulations. The fuels ranged in sulphur content from 24 to 1700 ppm, and in total aromatics from 7.7 to 33 mass%. Effects of vehicle type and fuel composition on emissions are reported. The results show that emissions of these toxic species were broadly comparable to those observed in previous dynamometer and tunnel studies. Emissions of VOCs and smaller PAHs such as naphthalene, which are derived largely from the combustion process, appear to be related, and show relatively little variability when compared with the variability in emissions of aldehydes and larger PAHs. In particular, aldehyde emissions are highly variable and may be related to engine operating conditions. Fuels of lower sulphur and aromatic content did not have a significant influence on emissions of VOCs and aldehydes, but tended to result in lower emissions of PAHs. The toxicity of vehicle exhaust, as determined by inhalation risk and toxic equivalency factor (TEF)-weighted PAH emissions, was reduced with fuels of lower aromatic content.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)5291-5303
    Number of pages13
    JournalAtmospheric Environment
    Issue number21
    Publication statusPublished - Jul 2008

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