Meet Aviation Biofuel Blend Sulfur Limits with XRF

Over the next few years, there is likely to be a steep increase in the utilization of aviation biofuels. For the first time in 2018, the UK’s Renewable Transport Fuel Obligation (RTFO) included aviation fuel. Although it is not legally binding, the RTFO incentivizes fuel providers with rewards for adhering to the biofuel targets in the provision of aviation fuel. 

The International Air Transport Association (IAggTA) are influencing the market to use more biofuel in order to meet its strict targets for the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. Their target for 2050 is the reduction of net carbon emissions by half of the levels which were present in 2005.

In 2008, the first commercial flight to utilize a blend of sustainable fuel was the Virgin Atlantic flight B747. Sustainable fuels have been regularly used in commercial flights since 2011, and have been increasing since then. In 2017, 100,000 flights used sustainable fuels.

The IATA has set a target in 2025 for 1 billion customers to have flown on a biofuel blend powered aircraft. This target seems to be wholly backed by the airlines as well. Many airlines are planning to increase their utilization of biofuels in 2019 and 2020. The airlines which have substantial biofuel supply agreements include Cathay Pacific Airways Ltd, Qantas Airways and JetBlue.

Virgin Atlantic in particular has once again paved the way in the use of sustainable fuels when in October of 2018 they fuelled a transatlantic flight utilizing a blend of fuel produced from industrial waste gases.

Increased production of biofuels has also been scheduled. In Europe, the Advanced Sustainable Biofuels for Aviation (BIO4A) project is hoping to show the first industrialized production and utilization of sustainable aviation fuels.

The products used to create the fuel will be waste cooking oil and crops grown on marginal lands which are resistant to drought. The project is scheduled to finish in 2022, and the fuel specifications will adhere to the ASTM jet fuel standards.

At the moment, around 2% of international carbon emissions are a result of airlines. However, an increase in the market which is expected, will most likely cause this number to increase. It seems that the airlines, with the support of the IATA, are facing this challenge directly.

X-Ray Fluorescence (XRF) for Aviation Biofuel Blend Analysis

Aviation fuel, including biofuel, needs to meet the industry standards ASTM D1655 and D7566. These are the two major specifications for aviation turbine fuel. They detail the limits for various fuel characteristics, for example the sulfur content in the biofuel.

Energy dispersive X-ray fluorescence is a certified method for determining the level of sulfur in fuel, supported by the test method ASTM D4294. The range of XRF analyzers by Hitachi can determine the amount of sulfur within biofuel blended aviation fuels, and can help the customer to conform to D1655 and D7566 in the utilization of the D4294 test method.

Moreover, Hitachi’s range of benchtop XRF analyzers, including the LAB-X5000 and X-Supreme 8000, are all compliant with ASTM D4294, ISO 8754, IP336, and ISO 20847.

Hitachi designed the range to make the equipment simple for the user to operate, even when it comes to non laboratory users. The sulfur results are shown clearly on the display screen, and they can be configured with a fail readout or a simple pass.

Little or no sample preparation is needed and the measurement time is fast. With Hitachi analyzers, the customer’s data is intuitively stored within the equipment.

As aviation grade biofuels become increasingly commercially viable and their utilization becomes more popular, Hitachi analyzers can help their customers to adhere to sulfur levels within their blended products.

This information has been sourced, reviewed and adapted from materials provided by Hitachi High-Tech Analytical Science.

For more information on this source, please visit Hitachi High-Tech Analytical Science.

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