Field Investigation of Biodiesel Fuel Particulate and Moisture Content

Briana Geary


Due to enhanced sustainability, reduced environmental impact and local sourcing, expanded use of biofuels is an important part of the US strategic energy policy.  En route from production to final use, it is difficult for biofuels to avoid exposure to moisture and particulates. The resulting contamination is a concern because it can lead to filter plugging, fuel injector fouling and engine damage. This research investigates the presence of water and particulates in commercial diesel fuel and how the bio-content of fuel affects quality. Biodiesel blends were gathered from truck stops and filling stations in Wisconsin and Illinois. The samples were tested for moisture using a submersible relative humidity (RH) sensor.  A benchtop moisture analyzer was used to determine the water content in parts per million (ppm). Particulates were determined through the use of a laser particle counter. All samples complied with published moisture and particle count requirements. To determine the concentration of biodiesel, infrared spectroscopy analysis was conducted on each sample. Infrared analysis showed that the biofuel content was consistent with labels posted at the pump, however some fuel samples appear to contain high levels of free fatty acids that may impact engine performance.


biodiesel, water, particulate

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