Evaporation of traffic-generated nanoparticles during advection from source

Roy M. Harrison*, Alan M. Jones, David C S Beddows, Manuel Dall'Osto, Irina Nikolova

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Citations (Scopus)
171 Downloads (Pure)


Earlier work has demonstrated the potential for volatilisation of nanoparticles emitted by road traffic as these are advected downwind from the source of emissions, but there have been few studies and the processes have yet to be elucidated in detail. Using a dataset collected at paired sampling sites located respectively in a street canyon and in a nearby park, an in depth analysis of particle number size distributions has been conducted in order to better understand the size reduction of the semi-volatile nanoparticles. By sorting the size distributions according to wind direction and fitting log normal modes, it can be seen that the mode peaking at around 22 nm at the street canyon site is on average shrinking to 6.2 nm diameter at the park site which indicates a mean shrinkage rate for these particles of 0.13 nm s-1 with temperatures within the range 12-18 °C. The diurnal variation of the shrunken mode in the park reflects the diurnal pattern of particle concentrations at the street canyon site taken as the main source area. An analysis of peak diameter for the smallest mode at the downwind park site shows an inverse relationship to wind speed suggesting that dilution rather than travel time is the main determinant of the particle shrinkage rate. An evaluation of previously collected C10 to C35 n-alkane data from a different urban location shows a good fit to Pankow partitioning theory reflecting the semi-volatility of compounds believed to be representative of the composition of diesel exhaust nanoparticles, hence confirming the feasibility of an evaporative mechanism for particle shrinkage.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-7
JournalAtmospheric Environment
Issue numberPart A
Early online date2 Nov 2015
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2016


  • Evaporation
  • Nanoparticles
  • Particle size
  • Semi-volatile
  • Ultrafine particles

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Atmospheric Science
  • General Environmental Science


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