Comprehensive Renewable Energy Research at Biodico’s Biofuel Laboratory

Biodico does comprehensive research on renewable energy at our Biofuel Laboratory in Central California.
Biodico’s main R&D laboratory is at the Naval Base Ventura County and is operated under the Cooperative Research and Development Agreement between Biodico and the US Navy.  Biodico’s laboratory is uniquely positioned to handle many bioenergy projects since it has been developed with analytical capabilities for liquid, solid, and slurry biomass fuels as well as biological feedstock development.  Biodico can confidently accept new and varied sources of biomass and determine the most fitting pathway for energy production and the quality and yields of the resulting energy.  General biofuel laboratory capabilities include gas chromatography, near infrared spectroscopy, thermogravimetry, photospectroscopy, bomb calorimetry, and high precision liquid chromatography.  In addition, Biodico uses an array of specialized equipment that tests for specific variables such as oxidative stability, total organic carbon, biomethane potential, cold flow characteristics, liquid cloud point, chemical gas composition, and many others.  The biofuel laboratory also has a well-stocked wet chemistry lab to perform reactions, titrations, distillations, extractions, and separations.

Biodico can confidently accept new and varied sources of biomass and determine the most fitting pathway for energy production and the quality and yields of the resulting energy.

In order for biodiesel to be sold on the market it must meet ASTM specification D 6751.  Of the 17 tests in the method, nine must be made on a representative sample from every homogenous batch that leaves the gate.  Biodico tests for free glycerin, bound glycerin, free fatty acid content, water content, methanol content, cold flow characteristics, cloud point, and oxidative stability on every batch of fuel made according to the specification at their internal laboratory.  Biodico has developed many additional internal test methods and adapted test methods from other specifications that can help to give a better-rounded picture of the fuel including tests for soaps, saturated monoglycerides, short chain fatty acid formation, mineral presence, and free sulfates.  Biodico has developed an optical method by near infrared spectroscopy that can test for free glycerin, bound glycerin, water, methanol, and free fatty acid content in a matter of seconds.  Many performance characteristics of the finished fuel are currently being incorporated into the spectroscopic method.

Biodico has developed an optical method by near infrared spectroscopy that can test for free glycerin, bound glycerin, water, methanol, and free fatty acid content in a matter of seconds.

Biodico specializes in determining the energy production potential of feedstocks in anaerobic digestion and in determining how that production can be improved.  Biodico uses fully automated biomethane potential test systems to run sample arrays of up to 15 digesters each to optimize the amount of energy that can be produced.  Typically for new feedstocks, the most telling indicators for energy production will be chemical oxygen demand and volatile solids concentration, but Biodico has the capability of running dozens of Standard Methods to capture a full picture of the anaerobic digestion process.  Biodico is also experienced in determining incoming feedstock problems such as high sulfate content, depleted micronutrient levels, and low buffering capacity.  Biodico actively works with private, public, academic, and government organizations on anaerobic digestion projects.

Biodico has the capability of running dozens of Standard Methods to capture a full picture of the anaerobic digestion process.

Biodico particularly enjoys analyzing new, potential feedstocks for energy production.  The highest value energy product that can be generated from most biomass resources is liquid fuel.  Biodico uses many different extraction techniques (Soxhlet, Bligh & Dyer, Folch, etc.) to determine the polar and non-polar lipid content of incoming material and we have a mechanical extruder on-site to determine likely field yields.  Though Biodico does not work much in ethanol, we can also determine sugar and starch content.  Fuel yields and quality can be tested from extracted or extruded oil to give an accurate material balance and profitability projection.  Solid biomass can be tested for gasification potential.  Liquid or slurry biomass can be tested for biomethane potential.  Biodico also has bench and prototype algaculture on-site, though it is mostly used for internal R&D only.  Biodico is able to determine the most environmentally and economically profitable uses of biomass resources.