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Clean Air Journal

On-line version ISSN 2410-972X
Print version ISSN 1017-1703


MAHLANGU, Amanda S.; SCHABERG, Paul W.; WATTRUS, Mark C.  and  FORBES, Patricia B.C.. Characterisation of semi-volatile hydrocarbon emissions from diesel engines. Clean Air J. [online]. 2020, vol.30, n.1, pp.1-8. ISSN 2410-972X.

Exhaust emissions from diesel vehicles have recently been receiving global attention, due to potential human health effects associated with exposure to emitted pollutants. In addition, a link has recently been established between unburnt hydrocarbon (HC) emissions from diesel engines and photochemical smog. Despite being present at very low concentrations in the exhaust, these HCs may act as precursors in the formation of photochemical smog pollution. While short-chain HCs are easier to characterise and have been successfully reduced in many developed cities, longer chain HCs, most likely arising from diesel exhaust emissions, have been poorly quantified to date, and a limited range of HCs from this source has been studied. In this study, transient cycle tests were conducted to collect exhaust emissions from a Euro 3 compliant, 1.6 L test engine fuelled with three diesel fuels; a highly paraffinic fuel, a South African market fuel and a European reference fuel. Portable denuder samplers were used to collect the emissions and analysis was done by thermal desorption-comprehensive 2D gas chromatography-time of flight mass spectrometry (TD-GC x GC-TofMS). The South African market diesel had the greatest n-alkane emissions, with greater emissions observed in the earlier phases (low and medium phase) of the WLTC test cycle. The total n-alkane emissions for this fuel ranged from 34.80 mg/km - 282.67 mg/km from the low to the extra-high phase. The paraffinic diesel had the second highest n-alkane emissions with the total emissions ranging from 35.43 mg/km - 164.99 mg/km. The European reference diesel had the lowest n-alkane emissions amongst the three fuels, with the total emissions ranging from 22.46 mg/km - 82.56 mg/km. Substituted alkyl-benzenes were also detected in the gas phase emissions from each fuel, however only semi-quantitative analysis of these compounds was conducted. The results showed that long-chain HCs were present at easily detectable concentrations in diesel engine exhaust emissions, which is critical in understanding their contribution to photochemical ozone and informing appropriate mitigation and management strategies.

Keywords : Photochemical smog; hydrocarbons; ozone; diesel exhaust emissions; ozone formation potential; emission factor.

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