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Pressure-Controlled Advanced Distillation Curve Analysis of Biodiesel Fuels: Assessment of Thermal Decomposition



Thomas J. Bruno, Bret Windom


One of the most important properties measured for liquid fuels is the volatility, usually as expressed by the distillation curve. In previous work, we introduced the composition explicit or advanced distillation curve (ADC) metrology, which we have applied to a wide variety of liquid fuels including biodiesel fuels. Application of this method to typical biodiesel fuels requires the addition to an inert gas purge in the apparatus to achieve acceptable repeatability. Despite this precaution, there is clear evidence of thermal decomposition or polymerization at high distillation temperatures. To address this, a low pressure version of the ADC was introduced. In this brief paper, we apply the low pressure ADC to a commercial soy based biodiesel fuel, and discuss the volatility differences compared to measurements at atmospheric pressure. We show that by reducing the overall boiling temperatures, the reduced pressure distillation measurement avoided thermally induced decomposition and polymerization that can occur late in the distillation curve measurement. Analysis by gas chromatography (with flame ionization detection and mass spectrometry) confirmed the sample decomposition at atmospheric pressure and provided addition insight into the decomposition process and the resulting products.
Energy and Fuels


advanced distillation curve, biodiesel fuel, chemical analysis, FAME, low pressure, volatility


Bruno, T. and Windom, B. (2012), Pressure-Controlled Advanced Distillation Curve Analysis of Biodiesel Fuels: Assessment of Thermal Decomposition, Energy and Fuels (Accessed April 16, 2024)
Created April 5, 2012, Updated February 19, 2017