Size analysis of automobile soot particles using field-flow fractionation

Environ Sci Technol. 2001 Mar 15;35(6):1005-12. doi: 10.1021/es001329n.


Soot particles emitted from various automobile engines are analyzed for size distributions using field-flow fractionation (FFF). Soot samples are prepared for FFF analysis using a three-step procedure, where a layer of soot particles is focused between the layers of n-hexane and water, followed by dispersing of particles in water containing 0.05% Triton X-100. The mean diameters determined by FFF show similar trends with those obtained from dynamic light scattering (DLS) and scanning electron microscopy (SEM). Data from FFF are also compared with those from an on-line scanning mobility particle sizer (SMPS). SMPS size distributions extend further to larger size than those of FFF distributions, which indicates the three-step sample preparation procedure effectively disaggregates the agglomerated particles. Although the amount of particulate matter (PM) emitted from a heavy-duty diesel engine is much higher than that from a light-duty diesel engine, the size distributions of soot particles show no significant difference between heavy- and light-duty diesel engines. The engine-operating mode (engine speed and load rate) does not seem to affect significantly the size distribution of soot particles. It was found that the PM from a turbocharged diesel engine contains a higher percentage of particles smaller than 100 nm than an engine with a naturally aspirated (NA) air-inhalation system. As for gasoline engines, the PM collected after the catalytic converter has a narrower size distribution than those collected before and has a higher percentage of particles smaller than 100 nm.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Air Pollution / analysis*
  • Chemistry Techniques, Analytical / methods
  • Environmental Monitoring / methods
  • Motor Vehicles
  • Particle Size
  • Vehicle Emissions / analysis*


  • Vehicle Emissions