Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Civil and Environmental Engineering

First Advisor

Britt A. Holmén


Numerous studies have shown that respirable particles contribute to adverse human health outcomes including discomfort in irritated airways, increased asthma attacks, irregular heartbeat, non-fatal heart attacks, and even death. Particle emissions from diesel vehicles are a major source of airborne particles in urban areas. In response to energy security and global climate regulations, the use of biodiesel as an alternative fuel for petrodiesel has significantly increased in recent years. Particle emissions from diesel engines are highly dependent on fuel composition and, as such, the increased use of biodiesel in diesel vehicles may potentially change the concentration, size, and composition of particles in respirable air. One indicator used to evaluate the potential health risk of these particles to humans is particle diameter (Dp). Ultrafine particles (UFPs, Dp

Current research in automotive emissions primarily focuses on particle emissions measured on a total particle mass (PM) basis from heavy-duty diesel vehicles. The nation's light-duty diesel fleet is, however, increasing; and because the mass of a UFP is much less than that of larger particles, the total PM metric is not sufficient for characterization of UFP emissions. As such, this research focuses on light-duty diesel engine transient UFP emissions, measured by particle number (PN), from petrodiesel, biodiesel, and blends thereof. The research objectives were to determine: 1) the difference in UFP emissions between petrodiesel and blends of waste vegetable oil-based biodiesel (WVO), 2) the differences between UFP emissions from blends of WVO and soybean oil-based biodiesel (SOY), and 3) the feasibility of using genetic programming (GP) to select the primary engine operating parameters needed to predict UFP emissions from different blends of biodiesel.

The results of this research are significant in that: 1) Total UFP number emission rates (ERs) exhibited a non-monotonic increasing trend relative to biodiesel content of the fuel for both WVO and SOY that is contrary to the majority of prior studies and suggests that certain intermediate biodiesel bends may produce lower UFP emissions than lower and higher blends, 2) The data collected corroborate reports in the literature that fuel consumption of diesel engines equipped with pump-line-nozzle fuel injection systems can increase with biodiesel content of the fuel without operational changes, 3) WVO biodiesel blends reduced the overall mean diameter of the particle distribution relative to petrodiesel more so than SOY biodiesel blends, and 4) Feature selection using genetic programming (GP) suggests that the primary model inputs needed to predict total UFP emissions are exhaust manifold temperature, intake manifold air temperature, mass air flow, and the percentage of biodiesel in the fuel; These are different than inputs typically used for emissions modeling such as engine speed, throttle position, and torque suggesting that UFP emissions modeling could be improved by using other commonly measured engine operating parameters.



Number of Pages

202 p.