In Focus

Fossil Fuels Analysis

ASTM Publishes Two New Works

"Fossil fuels will continue to play a major and critical role in the science and transportation industry for a long time in the future.” So writes R.A. Kishore Nadkarni, Ph.D., in a new monograph, one of two published by ASTM International on the topic of fuels analysis. In light of this fact, laboratories will need to continue to analyze fuel and ASTM International standard tests will continue to provide the means for those analyses.

The two new ASTM monographs delve into the elemental and sulfur analysis of fossil fuels:

  • Monograph 10, Elemental Analysis of Fossil Fuels and Related Materials, and
  • Monograph 11, Sulfur: Chemistry and Analysis of Fossil Fuel Products.

Both volumes should be useful to chemists and engineers in the energy industries as well as environmental regulators and fuel chemistry scientists, among others.

Nadkarni, president of Millennium Analytics in East Brunswick, N.J., and a longtime member of ASTM International and Committee D02 on Petroleum Products and Lubricants, has extensive experience from both academia and industry; he has been manager of the Materials Science Center Analytical Facility at Cornell University and analytical leader for ExxonMobil with responsibility for technical quality laboratory management. He has also published many technical articles.

Elemental Analysis

A work that treats fuel chemistry, the elemental composition of various fossil fuels and relevant analyses, Monograph 10 brings together 15 chapters and seven appendixes in more than 800 pages on its topic. According to the Monograph 10 introduction, “This is the first comprehensive book discussing the elemental analysis of all four major fossil fuels — coal, oil shale, natural gas and petroleum products.”

“The analytical methods covered in this monograph are critical in quantifying products to verify that they meet the product specifications per the agreements between the buyers and sellers,” says Nadkarni. Such analyses are performed in fuel and lubricant production during refining and blending as well as on the final product for quality control.

Monograph 10 also describes ASTM International fuel analysis standards, which the appendixes list according to fuel type, as well as the ASTM Proficiency Testing Programs that laboratories use to check their results.

Sulfur Analysis

Monograph 11 homes in on the determination of sulfur in crude oil, oil shale, coal and coke, gaseous fuels, lubricants and other petroleum products. Present in almost all petroleum products and lubricants, sulfur and its compounds can cause rusting and corrosion in engine parts.

Nadkarni notes that the determination of sulfur content is critical because emissions from sulfur compounds in combusted fuel are undesirable, adding that government agencies monitor data about the emissions of sulfur compounds. To address the amount of sulfur in a fuel, ASTM has developed a number of standard methods, including X-ray fluorescence and ultraviolet-fluorescence procedures that aid laboratories and others in making such a determination.

While other articles and books address the analysis of various elements in fossil fuels, Monograph 11 focuses on the fundamentals of sulfur determination techniques and the analysis of specific types of fuels and biofuels. In addition, the book describes the relevant ASTM International Proficiency Testing Programs for laboratories that perform such analyses.

This article appears in the issue of Standardization News.