In the prospect of limited energy resources and climate change, effects of alternative biofuels on primary emissions are being extensively studied. Our two recent studies have shown that biodiesel fuel composition has a significant impact on primary particulate matter emissions. It was also shown that particulate matter caused by biodiesels was substantially different from the emissions due to petroleum diesel. Emissions appeared to have higher oxidative potential with the increase in oxygen content and decrease of carbon chain length and unsaturation levels of fuel molecules. Overall, both studies concluded that chemical composition of biodiesel is more important than its physical properties in controlling exhaust particle emissions. This suggests that the atmospheric aging processes, including secondary organic aerosol formation, of emissions from different fuels will be different as well. In this study, measurements were conducted on a modern common-rail diesel engine. To get more information on realistic properties of tested biodiesel particulate matter once they are released into the atmosphere, particulate matter was exposed to atmospheric oxidants, ozone and ultra-violet light; and the change in their properties was monitored for different biodiesel blends. Upon the exposure to oxidative agents, the chemical composition of the exhaust changes. It triggers the cascade of photochemical reactions resulting in the partitioning of semi-volatile compounds between the gas and particulate phase. In most of the cases, aging lead to the increase in volatility and oxidative potential, and the increment of change was mainly dependent on the chemical composition of fuels as the leading cause for the amount and the type of semi-volatile compounds present in the exhaust.
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Pourkhesalian, A. M., Stevanovic, S., Rahman, M. M., Faghihi, E. M., Bottle, S. E., Masri, A. R., ... Ristovski, Z. D. (2015). Effect of atmospheric aging on volatility and reactive oxygen species of biodiesel exhaust nano-particles. Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics, 15, 9099-9108. https://doi.org/10.5194/acp-15-9099-2015