Detection of Adulterated Diesel

Significance 

Fuel adulteration has continued to be a problem for many years reference to the ubiquity of this energy source. The use of adulterated fuel can significantly reduce the service life of engines, reducing engine performance, and cause larger environmental pollution. For instance, adulteration of diesel using kerosene containing significantly high sulfur leads to the emission of sulfur oxide derivatives to the environment. This problem has persisted for many decades; therefore, sustainable fuel management is very important. To have better awareness, availability of elementary and reliable tests for fuel adulteration is critical.

In the past years, huge steps have been made towards mineral oil analysis, however most analysis methods are still expensive and complex, and have not been adapted to on-site measurement. In recent years, however, less laboratory bound approaches that overcome the shortcomings of the classical procedures have been developed implementing, fiber optics, mechanochromic materials, and field effect transistors. Unfortunately, straight-forward, robust, and portable approaches are still insufficient and alternative methods such as fluorescent molecular rotors as probes for viscosity are highly desired.

Researchers at Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing (BAM) of Berlin in Germany: Carlo Tiebe, Jörg Schlischka, Knut Rurack, Jérémy Bell and Raúl Gotor investigated the viscosity testing potential of molecular rotors 4-dialkylamino-nitrostilbene (4-DNS) in developing rapid test probes for diesel adulteration. They design not only a reliable and accurate chemical analysis system, but also a disposable, cost effective, and easy to use probing system. Their research work is published in peer-reviewed journal, Energy & Fuels.

The authors studied the behavior of the molecular rotor when it was adsorbed onto a solid support. In addition, they came up with an embedded fluorescence detection system based on a smartphone. The ubiquitous application of the elaborate smartphones designed with effective cameras, they were able to achieve the detection of fluorometric and colorimetric changes and they introduced this as a powerful tool for field analysis. The authors in addition performed standard gas chromatography with flame ionization detection analyses of the kerosene/diesel mixtures in a bid to validate the results and authenticate the analytical performances and features of the rapid test.

The research team used a chemical system based on 4-DNS, which is a renowned fluorescent molecular rotor sensitive to viscosity. They found that the range of kinematic viscosities measured for diesel as well as its various mixtures with kerosene was consistent with the system’s response range, which allowed for the detection of minute aliquots of kerosene.

The authors then coated a derivative of the molecular rotor (4-DNS-OH) that could be sterically adsorbed in cellulose fiber networks without leaching on paper to come up with test strips that were stable upon dipping into fuel blends while giving a linear fluorescence response with increasing kerosene concentrations.

They also reported the successful design of a handheld analysis system based on a smartphone case integrating an LED and a strip support along with an application to read, analyze and interpret the fluorescence signal. This handheld analysis system yielded impressive linear responses as well as low detection limits down to 7% kerosene in diesel for the developed system.

Detection of Adulterated Diesel Using Fluorescent Test Strips and Smartphone Readout. Advances in Engineering

Detection of Adulterated Diesel Using Fluorescent Test Strips and Smartphone ReadoutDetection of Adulterated Diesel Using Fluorescent Test Strips and Smartphone Readout. Advances in Engineering

Detection of Adulterated Diesel Using Fluorescent Test Strips and Smartphone Readout. Advances in EngineeringDetection of Adulterated Diesel Using Fluorescent Test Strips and Smartphone ReadoutDetection of Adulterated Diesel Using Fluorescent Test Strips and Smartphone Readout. Advances in Engineering

About the author

Carlo Tiebe is working in the division 8.1 Sensors, Measurement and Testing Methods of BAM. He studied analytical and environmental chemistry at the University of applied sciences Magdeburg-Stendal and Martin-Luther-University Halle-Wittenberg and received his doctoral degree (PhD) at the Technical University Ilmenau on the topic “Detection of microbial volatile organic compounds by ion mobility spectrometry”.

His current research focuses are trace humidity determination by coulometric humidity sensors, sensor based quality control for spices and spice mixtures, air mail and cargo screening methods as well as metrology of ammonia in ambient air. In 2016 he passed the examination of a further education on quality management and quality auditor.

About the author

Knut Rurack leads the Chemical and Optical Sensing Division (1.9) at the Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing (BAM) in Berlin, Germany. He studied chemistry and food chemistry at the Universities of Kiel and Münster, Germany, before he changed to Humboldt University (HU) Berlin for his doctoral studies. After receiving his Ph.D. degree in Physical Chemistry from HU, he joined BAM as scientist and built up BAM’s chemical sensing unit over the last ten years.

His current research interests include chemical sensors and rapid tests, microfluidics and bead assays, functional dyes and molecularly imprinted polymers, hybrid materials and optical spectroscopy.

About the author

Jérémy Bell is a researcher in the Chemical and Optical Sensing Division of the Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing (BAM) in Berlin, Germany. He received his PhD degree from the École Normale Supérieure de Cachan, France, specializing on chemical sensing systems.

His research is focused on the development of embedded optical and microfluidics sensors for the detection of various substances in food or the environment.

About the author

Raúl Gotor is a researcher in the Chemical and Optical Sensing Division (1.9) at the Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing (BAM) in Berlin, Germany. He received his Bachelor and Doctor degree from the Universitat de València, Spain, and his Master degree at the Universitat Politècnica de València. During these years he specialized himself on the design and development of optical chemosensors.

His research is focused on the development of miniature optical sensor systems for smartphone readouts, targeting toxic and environmental hazardous substances.

About the author

Jörg Schlischka is a certified foreman specialised in chemistry in the division 8.1 Sensors, Measurement and Testing Methods of BAM. He received his degree in a further period after his vocational qualification for chemical technician. He is working in the chemical laboratory to prepare samples and performs analysis.

Reference

Raúl Gotor, Carlo Tiebe, Jörg Schlischka, Jérémy Bell, and Knut Rurack. Detection of Adulterated Diesel Using Fluorescent Test Strips and Smartphone Readout. Energy Fuels, volume 31, (2017), pages 11594-11600.

 

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