What You Should Know About Alternative Fuel and Biodiesel Testing

Engine emissions are a byproduct of burning fuel, and before an adequate emissions system could be developed, diesel engines were emitting carcinogens and other health hazards. Fortunately, by adjusting the temperature of the burn and the content of the fuel, you can reduce emissions. Alternative fuels have been engineered as an attempt to reduce the amount of pollution released into the air from diesel engines. For this reason, we have moved away from petroleum-based products. While the price of oil remains high, this is a good economic decision, as well.

Some of the most popular alternatives are derived from plant materials, which offer the additional advantage of being sustainable. Soybeans or corn, for example, are renewable resources, and their oils are perfect bases for alternatives. Biodiesel can also be produced from animal fats or kitchen grease, which makes for a useful way to dispose of waste from another industry.

The basic principle of creating an alternative to ignite your engine is simple. The fuel needs to be a flammable liquid that is thin enough to be sprayed from the engine’s fuel-injection system. Glycerin is the substance that makes oil thick, sticky, and, well, oily. By removing the glycerin from any oil, you can create a biological substance that will burn cleanly.

The EPA has approved Biodiesel as a vehicle fuel, but it must meet certain standards. This is where the biodiesel testing comes in. You could pour raw vegetable oil into your engine and it would work, but that doesn’t mean it meets EPA standards. Chances are pretty good that the kinds of biofuel that don’t meet the standards will also eventually ruin your engine.

Testing your biofuel, whether you produced it or bought it from someone else, is not difficult. You want to be sure that it doesn’t contain glycerin, of course, but there are some other things to look out for. Soaps or acids might have been used to get rid of the glycerin, and you don’t want any of those substances left behind. Also, it is a good idea to check for oxidized oils that could be remnants from an old tank or may have been added to increase volume.

If you are not a chemist, don’t worry. Biodiesel testing equipment is available that is very easy to use. Portable testers also make it easy to trace the source of a problem by analyzing fuel in the tank or elsewhere in the system. You can even use these tools to test the fuel in a piece of used equipment to determine the contents before starting the engine. Biodiesel testing will ensure proper quality and performance in all of your diesel engines.