Simulation of the evolution of particle size distributions in a vehicle exhaust plume with unconfined dilution by ambient air

J Air Waste Manag Assoc. 2005 Apr;55(4):437-45. doi: 10.1080/10473289.2005.10464635.


Over the past several years, numerous studies have linked ambient concentrations of particulate matter (PM) to adverse health effects, and more recent studies have identified PM size and surface area as important factors in determining the health effects of PM. This study contributes to a better understanding of the evolution of particle size distributions in exhaust plumes with unconfined dilution by ambient air. It combines computational fluid dynamics (CFD) with an aerosol dynamics model to examine the effects of different streamlines in an exhaust plume, ambient particle size distributions, and vehicle and wind speed on the particle size distribution in an exhaust plume. CFD was used to calculate the flow field and gas mixing for unconfined dilution of a vehicle exhaust plume, and the calculated dilution ratios were then used as input to the aerosol dynamics simulation. The results of the study show that vehicle speed affected the particle size distribution of an exhaust plume because increasing vehicle speed caused more rapid dilution and inhibited coagulation. Ambient particle size distributions had an effect on the smaller sized particles (approximately 10 nm range under some conditions) and larger sized particles (>2 microm) of the particle size distribution. The ambient air particle size distribution affects the larger sizes of the exhaust plume because vehicle exhaust typically contains few particles larger than 2 microm. Finally, the location of a streamline in the exhaust plume had little effect on the particle size distribution; the particle size distribution along any streamline at a distance x differed by less than 5% from the particle size distributions along any other streamline at distance x.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Air Pollutants / analysis*
  • Environmental Monitoring
  • Models, Theoretical*
  • Motor Vehicles
  • Particle Size
  • Reference Values
  • Vehicle Emissions / analysis*


  • Air Pollutants
  • Vehicle Emissions