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Characterization and ecological risk assessment of nanoparticulate CeO2 as a diesel fuel catalyst



Nanoparticulate cerium dioxide (nano-CeO2), when combusted as an additive to diesel fuel, was transformed from 6 nm to 14 nm sizes into particles near 43 nm, with no obvious change in the unit cell dimensions or crystalline form. Cerium sulfate, if formed during combustion, was below detection limits. Ceria nanoparticles were agglomerated within the soot matrix, with a mean aerodynamic diameter near 100 nm. The dissolution of cerium from the dried ceria catalyst in synthetic soft water was extremely small (<0.0006% or <0.2 µg Ce/L), with particles being highly agglomerated (<450 nm). Agglomeration was reduced in the presence of humic acid. In the combusted samples, soot was dominant, and the solubility of cerium in soft water showed an almost 100-fold increase in the <1 nm fraction compared to that before combustion. It appeared that the nano-CeO2 remained agglomerated within the soot matrix and would not be present as dispersed nanoparticles in aquatic or soil environments. Despite the increased dissolution, the solubility was not sufficient for the combusted ceria to represent a risk in aquatic ecosystems. The predicted environmental concentrations were still orders of magnitude below the predicted no effects concentration of near 1 mg/L. In the soil environment, any cerium released from soot materials would interact with natural colloids, decreasing cerium concentrations in soil solutions and further minimizing the potential risk to soil organisms. Environ Toxicol Chem 2013;32:1896–1905. © 2013 SETAC

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