Alternatives to the gravimetric method for quantification of diesel particulate matter near the lower level of detection

Jacob Swanson, David B. Kittelson, David Y H Pui, Winthrop Watts

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


This paper is part of the Journal of the Air & Waste Management Association's 2010 special issue on combustion aerosol measurements. The issue is a combination of papers that synthesize and evaluate ideas and perspectives that were presented by experts at a series of workshops sponsored by the Coordinating Research Council that aimed to evaluate the current and future status of diesel particulate matter (DPM) measurement. Measurement of DPM is a complex issue with many stakeholders, including air quality management and enforcement agencies, engine manufacturers, health experts, and climatologists. Adoption of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency 2007 heavy-duty engine DPM standards posed a unique challenge to engine manufacturers. The new standards reduced DPM emissions to the point that improvements to the gravimetric method were required to increase the accuracy and the sensitivity of the measurement. Despite these improvements, the method still has shortcomings. The objectives of this paper are to review the physical and chemical properties of DPM that make gravimetric measurement difficult at very low concentrations and to review alternative metrics and methods that are potentially more accurate, sensitive, and specific. Particle volatility, size, surface area, and number metrics are considered, as well as methods to quantify them. Although the authors believe that an alternative method is required to meet the needs of engine manufacturers, the methods reviewed in the paper are applicable to other areas where the gravimetric method detection limit is approached and greater accuracy and sensitivity are required. The paper concludes by suggesting a method to measure active surface area, combined with a method to separate semi-volatile and solid fractions to further increase the specificity of the measurement, has potential for reducing the lower detection limit of DPM and enabling engine manufacturers to reduce DPM emissions in the future.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1177-1191
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of the Air and Waste Management Association
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 2010


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