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Wilks Enterprise’s Infraspec VFA-IR spectrometer, featuring a new flow-through sample system, is now capable of measuring biodiesel in diesel fuel down to 0.05 per cent within less than a minute.

This is particularly important for nuclear power plants and pipeline operators as they need to ensure that little or no biodiesel is in their systems.

The ASTM Method D 975 currently allows up to five per cent biodiesel in diesel without the requirement for biodiesel content labelling.

For nuclear power plants, fuel can be stored for as long as 10 years to power their standby diesel generators in case of electrical power shutdowns.

Emergency diesel generators (EDGs) supply electrical power to safely shut down the nuclear reactor in the event of a loss of normal offsite power and supply power to critical items such as cooling pumps for decay heat removal.

Biodiesel is a natural food source for microbial growth and, while biocides should prevent the growth of bacteria, fungi and mould, nuclear power plants cannot risk the fact that microbial growth could clog filters and shut down the EDG.

In cold-weather areas, there is also concern that the cold flow properties of biodiesel-blended fuel may cause it to gel in cold temperatures and clog filters.

Therefore, it has become necessary for many standby generator operators to determine whether their fuel delivery contains biodiesel.

Pipeline operators also need to know that the products being delivered to their customers are as specified.

If a delivery of diesel fuel to be shipped through a pipeline contains unlabelled biodiesel or the pipeline previously carried a diesel/biodiesel blend, it is important to ensure that there is no residual biodiesel present in the delivery to a customer that requires pure diesel fuel, such as a nuclear power plant.

The fast analysis capability of the Infraspec VFA-IR spectrometer is suitable for onsite biodiesel measurements in less than one minute by non-technically trained personnel.

It eliminates the need to wait for measurement results from an offsite laboratory.

This spectral range analyser contains a linear variable filter with a 128-pixel detector array covering a wavelength range of 5.4-10.8um (1,850-925cm-1) and an integrated flow-through sample cell.

The Infraspec spectrometer is compact and portable and has a simplified PC interface that gives the user the capability to measure on site at a nuclear power plant or at a manufacturing facility as well as in the laboratory.

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