Dean B. Atkinson

Date of Award

Winter 12-6-2012

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Environmental Sciences and Resources: Chemistry


Environmental Science and Management

Physical Description

1 online resource (ix, 156 p.) : ill. (some col.)


Biodiesel fuels -- Environmental aspects, Diesel motor exhaust gas -- Health aspects, Automobiles -- Motors -- Exhaust gas -- Measurement, Air quality -- Measurement, Urban pollution -- Analysis




Mobile source emissions are a major contributor to global and local air pollution. Governments and regulatory agencies have been increasing the stringency of regulations in the transportation sector for the last ten years to help curb transportation sector air pollution. The need for regulations has been emphasized by scientific research on the impacts from ambient pollution, especially research on the effect of particulate matter on human health. The particulate emissions from diesel vehicles, diesel particulate matter (DPM) is considered a known or probable carcinogen in various countries and increased exposure to DPM is linked to increased cardiovascular health problems in humans. The toxicity of vehicle emissions and diesel particulate emissions in particular, in conjunction with an increased awareness of potential petroleum fuel shortages, international conflict over petroleum fuel sources and climate change science, have all contributed to the increase of biodiesel use as an additive to or replacement for petroleum fuel. The goal of this research is to determine how this increased use of biodiesel in the particular emission testing setup impacts urban air quality. To determine if biodiesel use contributes to a health or climate benefit, both the size range and general composition were investigated using a comprehensive comparison of the particulate component of the emissions in real time. The emissions from various biodiesel and diesel mixtures from a common diesel passenger vehicle were measured with a cavity ring-down transmissometer (CRDT) coupled with a condensation particle counter, a SMPS, a nephelometer, NOx, CO, CO2, and O3 measurements. From these data, key emission factors for several biodiesel and diesel fuel mixtures were developed. This approach reduces sampling artifacts and allows for the determination of optical properties, particle number concentration, and size distributions, along with several important gas phase species' concentrations. Findings indicate that biodiesel additions to diesel fuel do not necessarily have an air quality benefit for particulate emissions in this emission testing scenario. The often cited linear decrease in particulate emissions with increasing biodiesel content was not observed. Mixtures with half diesel and half biodiesel tended to have the highest particulate emissions in all size ranges. Mixtures with more than 50% biodiesel had slightly lower calculated mass for light absorbing carbon, but this reduction in mass is most likely a result of a shift in the size of the emission particles to a smaller size range, not a reduction in the total number of particles. Evaluation of the extensive optical properties from this experimental set-up indicates that biodiesel additions to diesel fuel has an impact on emission particle extinction in both visible and near-IR wavelengths. The B99 mixture had the smallest emission factor for extinction at 532 nm and at 1064 nm. For the extinction at 532 nm, the trend was not linear and the emission factor peaked at the B50 mixture. Results from intensive properties indicate that emissions from B5 and B25 mixtures have Ångström exponents close to 1, typical for black carbon emissions. The mixtures with a larger fraction of biodiesel have Ångström exponent values closer to 2, indicating more absorbing organic matter and/or smaller particle size in the emissions. Additional experimental testing should be completed to determine the application of these results and emission factors to other diesel vehicles or types of diesel and biodiesel fuel mixtures.

Persistent Identifier