Diesel exhaust nanoparticles and their behaviour in the atmosphere

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

External organisations

  • King Abdulaziz University
  • Department of Mechanical Engineering
  • Beihang University


Diesel engine emissions are by far the largest source of nanoparticles in many urban atmospheres, in which they dominate the particle number count, and may present a significant threat to public health. This paper reviews knowledge of the composition and atmospheric properties of diesel exhaust particles, and exemplifies research in this field through a description of the FASTER project (Fundamental Studies of the Sources, Properties and Environmental Behaviour of Exhaust Nanoparticles from Road Vehicles) which studied the size distribution - and, in unprecedented detail, the chemical composition - of nanoparticles sampled from diesel engine exhaust. This information has been systematized and used to inform the development of computational modules that simulate the behaviour of the largely semi-volatile content of the nucleation mode particles, including consequent effects on the particle size distribution, under typical atmospheric conditions. Large-eddy model studies have informed a simpler characterization of flow around the urban built environment, and include aerosol processes. This modelling and engine-laboratory work have been complemented by laboratory measurements of vapour pressures, and the execution of two field measurement campaigns in London. The result is a more robust description of the dynamical behaviour on the sub-kilometre scale of diesel exhaust nanoparticles and their importance as an urban air pollutant.


Original languageEnglish
Article number20180492
JournalProceedings of the Royal Society A: Mathematical, Physical and Engineering Sciences
Issue number2220
Publication statusPublished - 19 Dec 2018


  • aerosol dynamics, diesel exhaust, evaporation, hydrocarbons, particulate matter