Ensuring your waste cooking oil makes the grade with XRF analysis

Waste cooking oil from food producers, fast-food chains and restaurants has become a valuable commodity. Today, forecasted growth of the worldwide use of cooking oil is 3.8% CAGR until 2023.

Waste cooking oil is recycled and used for a multitude of things, such as additives in manufactured products and industrial burner fuel. But the biggest use of waste cooking oil is to create biodiesel. Driven by environmental targets for biofuels in transport, the demand for biofuel is increasing, especially in Europe. For example, in the UK, new biofuel targets have been set for the transport sector. These ambitious targets begin at 4.75% biofuel by volume, and sharply increases year on year to 12.4% in 2032.

Recycled cooking oil is helping meet this target. According to the US EPA, over 500 million gallons of waste oil are collected by professional oil recycling services for reuse every year in the US only. To be suitable for conversion into biofuel, waste cooking oil needs to meet certain specifications.

Meeting tight specifications for biodiesel.

Reducing the level of sulfur present in diesel is important for environmental reasons and all automotive fuel, including biofuel blends, must comply with strict sulfur standards, such as BS EN 590 or ASTM D975 and D7467. To help meet these specifications, all feedstock products that are refined to create automotive fuel must contain very low levels of sulfur, including plant oil and reprocessed waste cooking oil.

When road tankers containing used cooking oil (UCO) arrive at the biodiesel refinery, the oil is tested to make sure it is suitable for use. If the sulfur level is too high the tankers are turned away, or a higher price is charged to cover the extra processing required to reduce the sulfur levels. Another controlled element in UCO is chlorine. Chlorine in the fuel can form chloric acid, which is very corrosive and can damage process components within a refinery.

XRF analysis is the industry standard for sulfur and chlorine level measurements within all petrochemicals. XRF can be used by waste cooking oil collection companies to make sure that deliveries will meet the standards set. This helps to ensure deliveries are accepted at the biodiesel refinery.

 

Using XRF to measure sulfur levels in UCO at collection

Hitachi’s X-Supreme 8000 has the accuracy needed to measure sulfur in used cooking oil, and complies with well-established sulfur standard test methods such as ASTM D4294, ISO8754 and ISO13032. It’s also easy to use by non-technical operators.

Because UCO contains a variety of contaminants, you need to prepare a sample before taking the measurement. First, you heat a small amount of used cooking oil in an oven, spin the sample in a centrifuge, then take the portion to be measured from the top one-third of the centrifuged liquid. This is placed into a sample cup and in the X-Supreme 8000. Then all the operator needs to do is enter a sample label on the X-Supreme’s display and press a button to start the test.

The X-Supreme 8000 can be set up with a pass and fail message, to make it easy to determine whether the cooking oil will make the grade.

XRF analysis is a quick and easy way to check whether deliveries of waste cooking oil are going to be accepted when they arrive at the refinery.

Why use XRF to analyse sulfur in oil?

There are a number of ways you can choose to analyse sulfur in oil but these prove to be no less accurate, often are more time consuming and more costly to do these methods include: UVF, WDXRF, combustion methods and microcoulometry.


For more information on Hitachi’s X-Supreme 8000 for fast, accurate analysis of sulfur in cooking oil, you can get more details here, or contact us to arrange a demonstration.

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Date: 13 December 2018

Author: Hitachi High-Tech Analytical Science

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