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Metal-Oxide Particles in Combustion Engine Exhaust

Concern for engine particle emission led to EC regulations of the number of solid particles emitted by LDV and HDV. However, all conventional piston-driven combustion engines emit metal oxide particles of which only little is known. The main sources are abrasion between piston ring and cylinder, abrasion of bearing, cams and valves, catalyst coatings, metal-organic lubrication oil additives, and fuel additives. While abrasion usually generates particles in the μm range, high concentrations of nanosize metal oxide particles are also observed, probably resulting from nucleation processes during combustion. In general, metal oxides, especially from transition metals, have high surface reactivity and can therefore be very toxic, especially nanosize particles, which evidently provide a high specific bioactive surface and are suspected to penetrate into the organism. Hence, these particles must be scrutinized for quantity, size distribution and composition.