Biodico utilizes Fourier Transform Near Infrared Spectroscopy (commonly abbreviated as FTNIR or FTIR) to analyze its biodiesel real time and in-situ. By combining the use of spectroscopic analysis with EMF phase detection technologies, operation algorithms, and other developed techniques, Biodico can roughly triple the throughput of its biodiesel production facilities over conventional processing technologies!
Biodico has developed an internal biofuel testing FTIR method that includes thousands of spectra for a wide variety of feedstocks with supporting research funding from the California Energy Commission.
In order to be legally sold in the US as a commodity, to meet warranties, and to claim any tax credits and incentives available, biodiesel must meet ASTM specification D 6751. ASTM D 6751 consists of 19 different tests set up to determine the quality of the fuel. 10 of these tests are considered process dependent and are more a measure of the production facility operation than the differences between batches of biodiesel or between production days. The other nine biofuel testing tests, however, can vary substantially between production batches and are dependent on either the feedstock used to make the biodiesel or the production chemistry. These nine tests look for contaminants in the fuel and characteristics to predict field performance. These critical specification tests need to be run on a representative sample of every shipment of biodiesel that leaves the plant. The key contaminants are: bound glycerin (mono, di, and triglycerides), free glycerin, water and sediment, methanol, free fatty acids, and sulfur. The performance tests are used to determine oxidative stability, cloud point, and cold soak filtration.
Many of these biodiesel efficiency tests need to be run mid-process as go/no-go decisions, creating production bottle necks. All of the tests, both mid-process and end of process, are time consuming and can be labor consuming. They also rely on lots of expensive equipment, some of which has strenuous maintenance requirements.
Analyze your biodiesel in real time and in-situ…
FTIR works by analyzing the absorption of energy across a range of wavelengths in the near infrared spectrum. Since the biodiesel and most of the key contaminants are all carbohydrates, an atomic analysis wouldn’t be effective in characterizing the fuel. Each component in the fuel has a different combination of functional groups though. These functional groups have different associated vibrational energies, giving them unique fingerprints in the infrared range. Because the analysis is performed by electromagnetic waves, testing speed is near instantaneous and results are given every 15 seconds. Probes are placed in the reactor, giving an up to date analysis of the process in-situ.