Multi-technique physico-chemical characterization of particles generated by a gasoline engine: towards measuring tailpipe emissions below 23 nm

C. Focsa, D. Duca, J.A. Noble, M. Vojkovic, Y. Carpentier, C. Pirim, C. Betrancourt, P. Desgroux, T. Tritscher, J. Spielvogel, Md Mostafizur Rahman, A. Boies, K.F. Lee, A.N. Bhave, S. Legendre, O. Lancry, P. Kreutziger, M. Rieker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)
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Particulate emissions from on-road motor vehicles are the focus of intensive current research due to the impact of the ambient particulate matter (PM) levels on climate and human health. Constant improvement in engine technology has led to significant decrease in the number and mass of emitted PM, but particular concern is raised nowadays by the ultrafine particles. In this context, there is a critical lack of certification procedures for the measurement of the smallest-size (<23 nm) particulate matter emissions. To support the engine development process as well as future certification procedures, a measurement technology for sub-23 nm particles must be designed. The development of a reliable measurement procedure entails understanding the formation and evolution of particles from the engine to the tailpipe via multiple analytical techniques and theoretical simulations. We present here extensive experimental characterization of ultrafine particles emitted by a gasoline direct injection single-cylinder engine as particle generator. The particles were sampled using a cascade impactor which allows size-separation into 13 different size bins. Chemical characterization of the collected size-selected particles was performed using mass spectrometry, which gives access to detailed molecular information on chemical classes of critical interest such as organosulphates, oxygenated hydrocarbons, nitrogenated hydrocarbons, metals, or polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons. Additionally, the morphology of the emitted particles was probed with atomic force (AFM) and scanning electron microscopy (SEM). Tip-Enhanced Raman Spectroscopy (TERS) was applied for the first time to sub-10 nm combustion-generated particles to gather information on their nanostructure. The extensive database built from these multiple experimental characterizations has been used as input of a theoretical approach to simulate and validate engine out-emissions. These studies were performed in the framework of the H2020 PEMS4Nano project which aims to the development of a robust, reliable and reproducible measurement technology for particles down to 10 nm for both chassis dyno and real driving emissions (RDE).

Original languageEnglish
Article number117642
Pages (from-to)(In-press)
JournalAtmospheric Environment
Early online date27 May 2020
Publication statusPublished - 15 Aug 2020
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

NOTICE: this is the author’s version of a work that was accepted for publication in Atmospheric Environment. Changes resulting from the publishing process, such as peer review, editing, corrections, structural formatting, and other quality control mechanisms may not be reflected in this document. Changes may have been made to this work since it was submitted for publication. A definitive version was subsequently published in Atmospheric Environment, 235 (2020) DOI: 10.1016/j.atmosenv.2020.117642

© 2020, Elsevier. Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International


  • Emission modeling
  • Internal combustion engine
  • Mass spectrometry
  • Nanoparticles
  • Physico-chemical characterization

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Science(all)
  • Atmospheric Science


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