Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS


FASTER Report Summary

Project ID: 320821
Funded under: FP7-IDEAS-ERC
Country: United Kingdom

Mid-Term Report Summary - FASTER (Fundamental Studies of the Sources, Properties and Environmental Behaviour of Exhaust Nanoparticles from Road Vehicles)

Breathing airborne particles is known to be harmful to human health. Diesel vehicles are one of the largest sources of emissions of airborne particles and this project is concerned with developing a better knowledge of the particles emitted by diesel engines and especially those of smaller sizes which have the greatest ability to penetrate deep into the human lung.

A system has been developed to collect the emissions of both particles and vapours from the exhaust of diesel engines run under controlled conditions in the laboratory. This system separates the particles according to their size, and fractions are collected for subsequent chemical analysis. The diesel particles contain a very complex mixture of organic compounds and the analytical system is capable of separating those compounds and identifying them individually. They are, however, so numerous that selected groups of compounds are being identified and their concentrations estimated, and fingerprints of the overall composition are generated. These show that the organic matter in the particles derives in part from unburned diesel fuel, in part from lubricating oil with a further contribution from partially burnt fuel and oil. The relative amounts contributed from the three sources vary according to the way in which the engine is run, with a greater contribution of unburnt fuel when the engine is running under lower load.

The information generated from the chemical analysis of diesel particles is being used in numerical models which describe the behaviour of diesel particles in the atmosphere. Good progress has been made in simulating the behaviour of particles within a street canyon environment (a busy road with high buildings to either side) and the movement of the particles out of the street canyon and downwind into a park where pollution levels are lower. The more volatile constituents of the particles evaporate and as a consequence the particles become smaller. The numerical model is able to simulate these processes rather well. A programme of field measurements is planned in which particle size distributions, particle composition and the composition of the associated vapour will be measured at sites in London to provide further tests of the prediction capabilities of the model. A larger scale model of an area of several square kilometres in central London is being developed to allow public exposures to be estimated.

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United Kingdom
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