Fuel for Thought

Analysis of Fatty Acid Methyl Ester (FAME) Content and Distribution in Biodiesel Blends Using Heart-Cutting 2D Gas Chromatography

Nov 05 2008

Author: James D. McCurry on behalf of Agilent Technologies Europe

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The analysis of the fatty acid methyl ester (FAME) content in blended biodiesel samples is described using a heartcutting two-dimensional (2D) gas chromatographic (GC) system. A Capillary Flow Technology Deans switch is used to interface a primary nonpolar capillary column to a secondary polar capillary column. The primary column separates most of the petroleum hydrocarbons from the FAMEs. The FAMEs are selectively transferred to the secondary column, where they are completely resolved from the remaining hydrocarbon matrix. The instrument is calibrated using the total response of all separated FAME peaks over a range of 1 to 25 volume percent. After calibration, a sample of commercially blended B20 biodiesel is analyzed; the results show excellent quantitative precision. The distribution of individual FAMEs is also determined and the results show that the commercial sample contains biodiesel made from soybean oil. The separation of palm oil and coconut oil FAMEs in biodiesel blends is also demonstrated using the heart-cutting 2D GC approach.

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