Particle Number and Size Distributions (PNSD) from a Hybrid Electric Vehicle (HEV) over Laboratory and Real Driving Emission Tests

Daisy Thomas, Hu Li, Xin Wang, Karl Ropkins, Alison S. Tomlin, Chris D. Bannister, Gary Hawley

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Particle number (PN) emissions from hybrid electric vehicles (HEV) during engine ignition and re-ignition events are an important but scarcely reported area. The objectives of the present work are to study the effects of drive cycle properties on the engine behaviour of a hybrid electric vehicle (HEV) and to investigate how this impacts the tailpipe PN emissions and their size distributions (PNSD). Worldwide harmonised light vehicles test cycle (WLTC) testing was conducted, as well as chassis dynamometer emission measurements over a realistic real driving emissions (RDE) speed pattern, using a Euro 5 Toyota Prius HEV with a Cambustion DMS500 sampling PN concentrations at the tailpipe. It is shown that the number of vehicle stops during a test cycle has a direct impact on the re-ignition activity for the HEV. 64 ± 3% of the total PN from WLTC testing was produced during engine re-ignition events while only 6 ± 1% was from stabilised engine operation. Similar proportions were observed for the RDE-style test cycle. The majority of engine reignition and destabilised activity, and hence PN emission, was during the low-speed sections of the drive cycles used. The average PNSD across cycle phases was different between cycles, due to the influence of dynamic properties on engine behaviour and hence the PN emission profile. The PNSD at the engine re-ignition and destabilised events had a merged wide peak with a maximum at 60 nm diameter and a shoulder at 12 nm diameter. The HEV had increased emissions of particles smaller than 23 nm under cold start, but similar overall PN emission values, compared to a warm start. The results of this work highlight the importance of controlling HEV PN emissions to limit human exposure to PN in urban environments where the majority of PN emissions occur. The sensitivity of HEV PN emission factors and PNSD to engine behaviour and, in turn, test cycle dynamic properties, is important to note when considering legislative test cycles, particularly with reference to the freedoms afforded by the RDE test cycle. The results also indicate that substantial improvements to air quality could be made by reducing the particle measurement protocol PN cut-off size to 10 nm.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1510
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 16 Sept 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was possible due to the financial aid of the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) for a PhD studentship for Daisy Thomas in the Centre for Doctoral Training in Bioenergy (EP/L014912/1). Thanks go to the technician Scott Prichard in the School of Chemical and Process Engineering for his help in the instrumentation and maintenance of the research vehicle. We would also like to thank the University of Bath and Horiba UK for providing the Chassis testing facilities and PEMS (Portable Emission Measurement System), respectively.


  • drive cycle
  • hybrid electric vehicle
  • particle number
  • particle number size distribution
  • RDE
  • WLTC

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Science (miscellaneous)
  • Atmospheric Science


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