Biodiesel Testing in Australia
Test your own biodiesel or your local supply of biodiesel to see if it meets the Australian biodiesel specification. Rest easy that you are using a quality fuel that will not cause damage to your engine.
Testing your biodiesel is paramount for any producer who is keen to perfect their product. With wine and beer we use our pallet. With biodiesel we use a lab.
Looking at your fuel or shaking it in a bottle with water tells the un-trained eye very little about biodiesel. Checking the parameters to the standard via a lab that is experienced in biodiesel testing is the only way to know what is in your fuel.
Grown Fuel has used all 4 NATA accredited labs who offer biodiesel testing in Australia and the only testing service in New Zealand only recommends one of them. Call for details.
Download the Australian Biodiesel Fuel Quality Standard here
Testing Biodiesel in Australia and New Zealand
Testing of Biodiesel in Australia can be quite extensive and expensive but does not need to be. My experience of testing Biodiesel for over 15 years has shown that there are some tests which need to be performed on each batch and others which are performed less frequently.
The full range of specification tests on a sample of B100 are usually required if you are selling the fuel commercially, and will cost around AU$1500.
If you are using the fuel for your own use then it is recommended that the following tests be performed to give you some level of confidence that your process is working, as well as avoiding costly maintenance and down time resulting from a batch that did not work.
Minimum tests recommended for each batch, prices as at 2016:
Acid Number AU$60
Measures the level of free fatty acids. Biodiesel with a high acid number can potentially increase fuel system deposits and the likelihood of corrosion. Don’t corrode your engine, get this right.
Free Glycerin AU$120
Measures the amount of free glycerin in the fuel. High levels can contribute to injector deposits, blocked fuel systems, and can accumulate at the bottom of storage tanks and fuel systems.
Total Glycerin AU$ included in above test
This test measures the glycerin portion of unreacted and partially reacted fats and oils. It is a particularly useful test as it shows the amount of conversion from fats/oil to methyl ester that has occurred. High amounts of Mono, Di, and Triglycerides can contribute to injector deposits and filter plugging in cold weather. Subtract free Glycerin from Total Glycerin to get % of feedstock converted to methyl esters.
Ester content AU$120
This test also gives a measurement of the conversion from Fats/oils to ester. When used in conjunction with glycerin measurement you can get a good picture of the effectiveness of your reaction process. This is the most complicated parameter to meet as there are 3 factors influencing it. Read more on Ester content testing.
Water content AU$60
Free water, as opposed to dissolved water, is a problem in that it can drop out of the fuel and accumulate in the fuel system causing corrosion, wear, blocked injectors, etc.
It is not recommended that the tests above are the only tests you ever do, as the full specification should be performed at some stage to check that your process is effective. Byconducting regular testing you can have confidence in the product you are producing, and also identify problem areas in your process that may arise without spending thousands of dollars on the full specification every time, or worse, thousands on equipment repairs and downtime.