What is a particle filter on a car?

Fine particles are harmful to human health. They can cause or exacerbate breathing and lung difficulties, cardiovascular diseases and even neurodegenerative diseases. This health risk can be limited if car owners would fit particle filters to their vehicles. Installed on exhaust or braking systems, particle filters are anti-pollution devices which capture fine particles emitted by vehicles. There are two types of particle filters: installations designed to capture particles from exhaust fumes generated by diesel and petrol vehicles, and those designed to recover fine particles from brake wear.

Exhaust particle filters

 The first regulations to control particulate emissions from exhausts and require particle filters on cars were brought in during the 2000s. The European Union published a series of standards with a view to improving air quality in urban areas. From 2011, Euro 5 required the use of filters to strictly limit particle emissions from diesel cars. Then, in 2018, Euro 6 also made them mandatory on new petrol vehicles. 

A particle filter installed on a car’s exhaust system works in two stages. First, the particles are retained by a filter and accumulate in the form of a layer of soot. These filters are then cleaned. This can be done either by an automatic process involving soot combustion generated by the heat of the exhaust gases. Another option is active regeneration; injecting combustion gas to artificially raise the temperature at the filter when the vehicle is not running at full throttle.

Brake wear particle filters

A particle filter on a car can also be fitted to the braking system. In this specific case, the filter collects the fine particles emitted by brake abrasion. This is an essential tool because more than half of the particles now generated by road traffic in Europe do not come from exhaust fumes but tyre and brake wear. The new Euro 7/VII standard should encourage most people to install brake wear particle filters because it will regulate particle emissions from brakes and microplastics from tyres up to 7 mg/km for the first time. The rules will apply to every type of vehicle, including electric.

It is still uncommon to install this type of particle filter on a car. Tallano Technologie has therefore designed a particle extraction system known as “TAMIC” that is fixed directly to the brakes of road vehicles. The system makes it possible to reduce fine brake particle emissions by up to 90%. Tested in the laboratory and proven under real-life conditions, this universal device can be adapted to any type of vehicle. This is good news because the rise of electric cars will not put an end to the emission of fine friction particles.

In summary, a particle filter on a car is a component specifically designed to capture and reduce fine particle emissions. Its main objective is to improve air quality by reducing the amount of harmful particles that are released into the environment. As the filter is so efficient, vehicles equipped with this device help to mitigate the environmental impact of emissions, while keeping people healthier and improving air quality.

The Euro 7/VII standard should be a significant step forward because it will be the first global regulation to control particle emissions from braking systems.

Discover more questions

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Every year in France, air pollution and fine particles cause 40,000 premature deaths. If we’re going to reduce that impact, we need to understand more about them. But behind the generic term “fine particles” lurks a variety of meanings. Fine particles can take different sizes and shapes, can be made up of different things, and can come from different sources. It’s time to take a closer look.
Stinging eyes, breathlessness, a cough that won’t budge: air pollution – especially when it’s cause by fine particles – is irritating, but can also be the cause of serious diseases. It even puts lives in danger: in France, air pollution cuts life expectancy by two years. And in New Delhi, this figure leaps to 10 years. In terms of deaths on a global scale, air pollution is just as dangerous as smoking, and even more serious than alcohol and unclean water (there are three times as many air pollution-related deaths) and HIV (six times more). Who is most at risk? People suffering from respiratory and cardiac disorders, diabetes, infants, seniors and pregnant women.