Secondary aerosol formation from engine exhaust emissions

Study level



Topic status

We're looking for students to study this topic.


Dr Branka Miljevic
Senior Lecturer
Division / Faculty
Science and Engineering Faculty
Professor Zoran Ristovski
Acting Head of School, Earth and Atmospheric Sciences
Division / Faculty
Science and Engineering Faculty

External supervisors

  • Svetlana Stevanovic, Deakin University


In Oct 2013 WHO and their International Agency for Research on Cancer classified particulate matter and outdoor atmospheric pollution as carcinogenic to humans. The main contributor to high atmospheric pollution episodes in urban environments are secondary organic aerosols (SOA), or photochemical smog, generated in the atmosphere through oxidation of reactive volatile gasses, primarily coming from traffic.

Estimates point out that diesel vehicles are responsible for 65% to 90% of the secondary pollution formed from vehicle emissions. The origin of 75% of this pollution cannot be related to the known fuel based precursors, because there is still a large number of unknown reactive gaseous compounds responsible for smog formation.

This project aims to identify the role of reactive volatile organic gasses that are emitted from vehicles using alternative fuels in the formation and evolution of secondary organic aerosols.

Research activities

  • The student will be involved in the aspects of physical and chemical characterization of particles as well as measurements of their oxidative capacity.
  • The student will establish the correlation between physical/chemical properties of fuel their primary emissions as well as their potential to form SOA.
  • The student will be trained to use highly sophisticated methods for particle characterisations such as the CIMS and ToF-Aerosol Mass Spectrometry.


  • The project outputs will be improved understandings of the impact of alternative fuels on diesel engine emissions and the role of their reactive volatile organic compounds in the development of photochemical smog.
  • The outcome will be better directed air quality policies and targeted alternative fuel technologies.
  • Benefits will be reduced risk in decision making by minimising negative impacts of alternative fuel use on human health and the environment.

Skills and experience

Preference would be given to students with a background in physical/chemical sciences.


Contact the supervisor for more information.