Alcohols as a Means to Inhibit the Formation of Precipitates in Blends of Biodiesel and Fossil Diesel Fuel

Axel Munack, Lasse Schmidt, Olaf Schröder, Kevin Schaper, Christoph Pabst, Jürgen Krahl,


The European diesel fuel specification limits the biodiesel content to 7 %. It is, however, desirable to increase the amount of renewables in the transport sector; therefore blending with a higher biogenic fuel content is of interest.

Blending of fuels can lead to chemical reactions between fuel components and may result in undesired products. In detail, aged biodiesel from unsaturated FAME and fossil diesel fuels can form oligomers and precipitations with a maximum in the range of B10 to B20. Precursors are oligomers that can be separated from the biodiesel or the blends in an amount of up to 20 %. These oligomers seem to have potency for chemical reactions with fuel components or the engine oil.

To prevent tentative problems in the fuel filter, the injecting system and the combustion process itself, the formation of oligomers should be disabled in blends. Alcohols have been proven and tested to dis-solve precipitations in the fuel. However, flash point problems occur, in case the alcohols have too low boiling points. In our tests, some alcohols could be identified to reach the demands of the diesel fuel standard EN 590. As acceptable monovalent alcohols, the longer-chained alcohols 1-octanol, 3-methyl-1-butanol (isoamyl alcohol) and 2-hexyldecan-1-ol were found. The blends with these alcohols both showed acceptable flashpoints according to DIN EN 590 and could prevent the occurrence of precipi-tates when added in a rather low concentration of about 6 to 8 %.

Additionally, engine tests were carried out to monitor regulated and non-regulated emissions. The emissions of selected blends (B10+6OctOH, B10+8IsoamylOH, B10+8HexdecOH) were analyzed by using a single cylinder test engine (Farymann Diesel 18W, TIER 4, agricultural 5-mode test). All of these blends showed less NOx emissions than the pure B10 blend without addition of alcohol. For the CO, HC and PM emissions, no remarkable changes could be found. In the case of non-regulated emis-sions, no relevant changes were observed in carbonyl and PAH emissions, relative to the B10 blend without addition of alcohol.

In the result, some blends from biodiesel, diesel fuel and alcohols tend to be appropriate to suppress chemical reactions in the fuel and probably in the engine oil. Further research is necessary to explain the chemical interactions that are responsible for the formation of oligomers and their reaction products. Not only chemical but physical bonds can play important roles and are in the focus of current research.


Alcohol, biodiesel, emission, oligomer, precipitate, Germany

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