Nanoparticle emissions on Minnesota highways

D. B. Kittelson, W. F. Watts, J. P. Johnson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

350 Scopus citations


The objective of this project was to characterize on-road aerosol on highways surrounding the Minneapolis area. Data were collected under varying on-road traffic conditions and in residential areas to determine the impact of highway traffic on air quality. The study was focused on determining on-road nanoparticle concentrations, and estimating fuel-specific and particle emissions km-1. On-road aerosol number concentrations ranged from 104 to 106 particles cm-3. The highest nanoparticle concentrations were associated with high-speed traffic. At high vehicular speeds engine load, exhaust temperature, and exhaust flow all increase resulting in higher emissions. Less variation was observed in particle volume, a surrogate measure of particle mass. Most of the particles added by the on-road fleet were below 50nm in diameter. Particles in this size range may dominate particle number, but contribute little to particle volume or mass. Furthermore, particle number is strongly influenced by nucleation and coagulation, which have little or no effect on particle volume. Measurements made in heavy traffic, speeds<32kmh-1, produced lower number concentrations and larger particles. Number concentrations measured in residential areas, 10-20m from the highway, were considerably lower than on-road concentrations, but the size distributions were similar to on-road aerosol with high concentrations of very small (<20nm) particles. Much lower number concentrations and larger particles were observed in residential areas located 500-700m from the highway. Estimated emissions of total particle number larger than 3nm ranged from 1.9 to 9.9×1014 particles km -1 and 2.2-11×1015 particles (kg fuel)-1 for a gasoline-dominated vehicle fleet.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)9-19
Number of pages11
JournalAtmospheric Environment
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2004

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was funded in part by the University of Minnesota Center for Transportation Studies under a contract from the Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT). The Coordinating Research Council (CRC) and the sponsors of the CRC E-43 project provided funding for the MEL and instrumentation. The Volvo Truck Corporation provided the tractor platform for the MEL. We would like to thank Mr. Bill Bunde and Ms. Marilyn Jordahl-Larson from MnDOT and Mr. Marcus Drayton from the University of Minnesota for their assistance in making this project possible.


  • Nanoparticles
  • Nuclei mode
  • On-road measurements
  • Particle size
  • Particulate matter

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