The newest testing requirement for biodiesel fuel testing is the cold soak filtration test. The procedure was added to the ASTM Method in October 2008. It is designed to improve purity standards in alternative fuels for consumers.
Biodiesel fuel is a non-petroleum based fuel that is made by the transesterification of vegetable oil or animal fat. It can be used to run unmodified diesel engine vehicles. It differs from straight vegetable oil or waste vegetable oil, which require the use of a converted engine.
Blends of biodiesel and regular diesel fuel are available around the world, and the fuel is graded with a “B factor” to indicate how much biodiesel is present in the mix. For example, a mix containing 20 percent biodiesel is rated B20. In its pure form, B100 may require engine modifications to be made to the vehicle to prevent long-term performance problems, but it presents a wonderful alternative for people interested in reducing their dependence on fossil fuels.
In the past, substandard biodiesel has been known to precipitate material out of solution when exposed to cold temperatures. If a solid material were to precipitate out of the biofuel when it is used in an engine, it can lead to extensive damage. Therefore, legislators took action to prevent such substandard product from making it to the market.
The standards are established by an organization known as the ASTM, otherwise known as the American Society for Testing and Materials. For years, the ASTM has set the standards by which the fuel source is deemed eligible for the marketplace.
The ASTM recently added the cold soak filtration test to prevent the precipitation of solid materials in inferior biodiesel during cold weather. But what is the cold soak filtration test, exactly? In scientific terms, it measures time in seconds it takes for cold soaked biodiesel to pass through two 0.8 micron filters. It also measures the amount of particulate matter collected on the filter.
This works to ensure that end users will not have clogged filters or worse problems with their engines when using biodiesel in cold temperatures. It also ensures that producers will maintain a high level of brand integrity as guaranteed by their customers’ satisfaction with their product.
The transesterification of vegetable oil was performed as early as 1853, long before the diesel engine was even functional. Since then, biodiesel applications and standards have come a long way since then. In order to ensure that the fuels you are manufacturing are meeting the newest regulations passed by the ASTM, it is important to subject them to testing.
A lab trained in the cold soak filtration test, as well as the many other tests mandated by the ASTM, will ensure you offer the best product possible. Maintaining high quality standards is the key to customer satisfaction. Be sure your end product is up to snuff by employing a trustworthy lab to test your products and ensure they are held to today’s rigorous testing standards.