Environmental risk of particulate and soluble platinum group elements released from gasoline and diesel engine catalytic converters

M. Moldovan, M. A. Palacios, M. M. Gómez, G. Morrison, S. Rauch, C. McLeod, R. Ma, S. Caroli, A. Alimonti, F. Petrucci, B. Bocca, P. Schramel, M. Zischka, C. Pettersson, U. Wass, M. Luna, J. C. Saenz, J. Santamaría

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

246 Citations (Scopus)


A comparison of platinum-group element (PGE) emission between gasoline and diesel engine catalytic converters is reported within this work. Whole raw exhaust fumes from four catalysts of three different types were examined during their useful lifetime, from fresh to 80000 km. Two were gasoline engine catalysts (Pt-Pd-Rh and Pd-Rh), while the other two were diesel engine catalysts (Pt). Samples were collected following the 91441 EUDC driving cycle for light-duty vehicle testing, and the sample collection device used allowed differentiation between the particulate and soluble fractions, the latter being the most relevant from an environmental point of view. Analyses were performed by inductively coupled plasma-mass spectrometry (ICP-MS) (quadrupole and high resolution), and special attention was paid to the control of spectral interference, especially in the case of Pd and Rh. The results obtained show that, for fresh catalysts, the release of particulate PGE through car exhaust fumes does not follow any particular trend, with a wide range (one-two orders of magnitude) for the content of noble metals emitted. The samples collected from 30000-80000 km present a more homogeneous PGE release for all catalysts studied. A decrease of approximately one order of magnitude is observed with respect to the release from fresh catalysts, except in the case of the diesel engine catalyst, for which PGE emission continued to be higher than in the case of gasoline engines. The fraction of soluble PGE was found to represent less than 10% of the total amount released from fresh catalysts. For aged catalysts, the figures are significantly higher, especially for Pd and Rh. Particulate PGE can be considered as virtually biologically inert, while soluble PGE forms can represent an environmental risk due to their bioavailability, which leads them to accumulate in the environment.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)199-208
Number of pages10
JournalScience of the Total Environment
Issue number1-3
Early online date26 Mar 2002
Publication statusPublished - 16 Sept 2002
Externally publishedYes


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