The Analysis of Biodiesel Blends by Fourier Transform Infrared Spectroscopy (FT-IR)

Aleksandr Pikalov


The increasing importance of sustainability in energy production worldwide has led to a recent global effort in the reduction of our dependence on fossil fuels and a commitment to the use of fuels derived from renewable biological sources such as biodiesel produced from plant based crops. Biodiesel consists of fatty acid methyl esters (FAME) that are produced from a catalyzed transesterification reaction involving methanol and triglycerides obtained from vegetable oils such as soybean and rapeseed. Considering biodiesel has many desirable diesel fuel properties, such as very low sulphur content, reduction in engine wear, and is cleaner burning than fossil based diesel, it has become of considerable importance to be able to accurately verify the FAME content of various biodiesel fuel blends while they are in production and/or in distribution chains. To that end, this experiment worked to precisely and accurately determine the FAME content of commonly available biodiesel blends through the use of the instrumental analysis technique Fourier transform infrared (FT-IR) spectroscopy. Here FAME concentrations where found using regression analysis techniques such as Beer’s Law and/or principal component regression with correlation coefficients (R2) values often being found to be ≥ 0.999. Precision in terms of percent relative standard deviation (%RSD) and accuracy in terms of percent relative error (%RE) were also determined. Additionally, sample handling and data acquisition optimization procedures of the FT-IR instrument, that utilized an integrated 9 bounce (reflection) diamond attenuated total reflectance (ATR) sample interface, were also explored. All calibration standards, quality controls (QC), and samples where ran in triplicate sets.


Biodiesel; FT-IR; Beer’s Law

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