Toxicological properties of emission particles from heavy duty engines powered by conventional and bio-based diesel fuels and compressed natural gas

Pasi I. Jalava (Corresponding Author), Päivi Aakko-Saksa, Timo Murtonen, Mikko S. Happo, Ari Markkanen, Pasi Yli-Pirilä, Pasi Hakulinen, Risto Hillamo, Jorma Mäki-Paakkanen, Raimo O. Salonen, Jorma Jokiniemi, Maija Riitta Hirvonen

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

    59 Citations (Scopus)


    Background: One of the major areas for increasing the use of renewable energy is in traffic fuels e.g. bio-based fuels in diesel engines especially in commuter traffic. Exhaust emissions from fossil diesel fuelled engines are known to cause adverse effects on human health, but there is very limited information available on how the new renewable fuels may change the harmfulness of the emissions, especially particles (PM). We evaluated the PM emissions from a heavy-duty EURO IV diesel engine powered by three different fuels; the toxicological properties of the emitted PM were investigated. Conventional diesel fuel (EN590) and two biodiesels were used - rapeseed methyl ester (RME, EN14214) and hydrotreated vegetable oil (HVO) either as such or as 30% blends with EN590. EN590 and 100% HVO were also operated with or without an oxidative catalyst (DOC + POC). A bus powered by compressed natural gas (CNG) was included for comparison with the liquid fuels. However, the results from CNG powered bus cannot be directly compared to the other situations in this study.Results: High volume PM samples were collected on PTFE filters from a constant volume dilution tunnel. The PM mass emission with HVO was smaller and with RME larger than that with EN590, but both biofuels produced lower PAH contents in emission PM. The DOC + POC catalyst greatly reduced the PM emission and PAH content in PM with both HVO and EN590. Dose-dependent TNFα and MIP-2 responses to all PM samples were mostly at the low or moderate level after 24-hour exposure in a mouse macrophage cell line RAW 264.7. Emission PM from situations with the smallest mass emissions (HVO + cat and CNG) displayed the strongest potency in MIP-2 production. The catalyst slightly decreased the PM-induced TNFα responses and somewhat increased the MIP-2 responses with HVO fuel. Emission PM with EN590 and with 30% HVO blended in EN590 induced the strongest genotoxic responses, which were significantly greater than those with EN590 + cat or 100% HVO. The emission PM sample from the CNG bus possessed the weakest genotoxic potency but had the strongest oxidative potency of all the fuel and catalyst combinations. The use of 100% HVO fuel had slightly weaker and 100% RME somewhat stronger emission PM induced ROS production, when compared to EN590.Conclusions: The harmfulness of the exhaust emissions from vehicle engines cannot be determined merely on basis of the emitted PM mass. The study conditions and the engine type significantly affect the toxicity of the emitted particles. The selected fuels and DOC + POC catalyst affected the PM emission from the heavy EURO IV engine both qualitative and quantitative ways, which influenced their toxicological characteristics. The plain HVO fuel performed very well in emission reduction and in lowering the overall toxicity of emitted PM, but the 30% blend of HVO in EN590 was no better in this respect than the plain EN590. The HVO with a DOC + POC catalyst in the EURO IV engine, performed best with regard to changes in exhaust emissions. However some of the toxicological parameters were significantly increased even with these low emissions.

    Original languageEnglish
    Article number37
    Number of pages14
    JournalParticle and Fibre Toxicology
    Publication statusPublished - 29 Sept 2012
    MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


    • Biodiesel
    • Compressed natural gas
    • Emissions
    • Hydrotreated vegetable oil
    • In vitro toxicology
    • Particulate matter


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