A diesel particulate filter (or DPF) is a device designed to remove diesel particulate matter or soot from the exhaust gas of a diesel engine. Wall-flow diesel particulate filters usually remove 85% or more of the soot, and under certain conditions can attain soot removal efficiencies approaching 100%. Some filters are single-use, intended for disposal and replacement once full of accumulated ash. Others are designed to burn off the accumulated particulate either passively through the use of a catalyst or by active means such as a fuel burner, which heats the filter to soot combustion temperatures.
Particulate filters have been in use on non-road machines since 1980, and in automobiles since 1985. Diesel engines during combustion of the fuel/air mix produce a variety of particles generically classified as diesel particulate matter due to incomplete combustion. The composition of the particles varies widely dependent upon engine type, age, and the emissions specification that the engine was designed to meet. Two-stroke diesel engines produce more particulate per unit of power than do four-stroke diesel engines, as they burn the fuel-air mix less completely.