Biofuel Testing

Testing Services of Biodiesel Blends (B20 to B50) in Bunker Fuels

The initial IMO Greenhouse Gas Strategy has outlined goals to reduce the carbon intensity of international shipping by at least 40% by 2030 and pursuing efforts towards reduction of 70% by 2050. Carbon intensity is measured as the amount of CO2 emission (gram) from a ship which sails & transports 1 (ton) of cargo for 1 (nautical mile).

In addition, the total annual GHG emissions from international shipping has also set to be reduced by at least 50% by 2050 compared to 2008 as base year. Total is referred to the absolute amount of GHG emissions from the international shipping.

To achieve the targets, IMO has set short-term, mid-term and long-term goals.

Short-term goal is tighter EEDI and SEEMP. Some of the mid-term goals are introducing new indicators for energy-efficiency measures of new and existing ships; plan for low carbon fuels such as biofuels, LNG, and others. Long-term goal is development of zero-carbon fuels.

Biodiesel blends is one of the options to achieve the mid-term goals set out in the initial IMO GHG strategy.

The advantages of biodiesel blends as alternative marine fuels are:

  • They can be used as drop-in fuel without modification of existing marine diesel engines.
  • They can potentially reduce GHG emissions based on the perspective of carbon cycle – CO2 release into atmosphere during biofuel combustion will be absorbed by the biomass feedstock during their growth stage.
  • CO2 reduction effect of biofuel in life cycle accounting is currently being developed by IMO.
  • They do not emit sulphur oxides (SOx) during their combustion.

However, usage of biodiesel blends on board ship do have some disadvantages:

  • Biodiesel blends are expected to emit higher NOx when compared to conventional fossil fuel and may not fulfil Reg. 18 of MARPOL Annex VI, which stipulated that the use of biofuels shall not cause an engine to exceed the applicable NOx emission limits.
  • Biodiesel blends are expected to be more expensive in comparison to conventional residual blends.
  • Marine fuel containing FAME also may potentially pose microbial growth; oxidative stability & long-term storage stability; low temperature operation & corrosion issue.

The main constituent of Biodiesel is fatty acid methyl ester (FAME), non-hydrocarbon containing carbonyl group. Use of marine fuels containing FAME onboard ship may potentially pose some operation issues as highlighted in the following sections.

  • Microbial Growth Issue
  • Poor Oxidative stability & long-term storage stability issues
  • Low temperature operation Issue
  • Potential Corrosion Issue
  • High Detergency and Cleaning Effect
  • Compatibility and Material Degeneration Effect
  • Operational Efficiency

Indicative calculations by ISO 8217 for the Specific Energy of bio diesel blends may not be accurate owing to the change in the chemical composition of the fuel, particularly for higher FAME content. It is recommended to conduct Bomb Calorimetry and determination of Hydrogen content of the fuel to identify the gross/lower calorific value of the fuel to determine the engine’s performance accurately.

In additional to the ISO8217 test parameters, the following are recommended for Biodiesel Blends (B20 to B50).

Test Parameters Test Method Bio-Derived Significance of Analysis
Residue Distillate
Fatty Acid Methyl Esters (FAME) EN 14078    To measure the FAME content of biodiesel blends
FTIR (Proprietary)
Cloud Point ISO 3015   To evaluate potential low temperature operation issue 
Cold Filter Plugging Point (CFPP) IP 309  
WAT/WDT (For Residue derived Biodiesel only) ASTM D8420 or ASTM D5773 Equivalent  
Oxidation Stability ISO 12205   To evaluate Stability & Long-Range Storage 
Total Bacteria Count & Total Yeast & Mould IP 385
Fuel Stability Reserve  P-value by SMS 1600  
Total Sediment Accelerated ISO 10307 1  
Total Sediment Existent ISO 10307‑1  
Copper Corrosion  ASTM D130 To evaluate Corrosive effect
Determination of Fatty Acids, Monoglycerides and Glycerol GCMS - SPE
Others (Optional) 
Gross Calorific Value ASTM D240 To measure energy content of biodiesel blends 
Net Calorific Value ASTM D240 To measure energy content of biodiesel blends
Rust Prevention Characteristics ASTM D665a To evaluate corrosiveness property of biodiesel blends
Fuel Combustion Analysis IP541 To evaluate ignition and combustion properties of biodiesel blends
Carbon Content, Hydrogen Content, Nitrogen Content and Oxygen Content ASTM D5291 To determine carbon content, hydrogen content, nitrogen content and oxygen content of biodiesel blends

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