Biodiesel is an interesting alternative to the decreasing resources of mineral fuels.
Biodiesel production has increased considerably in Europe in recent years, especially under the impulse of the automotive industry.
In the production of biodiesel, plant oils or animal fats are converted to fatty acid methyl esters (FAME).
Transesterification is used to convert triglycerides to FAME. The transesterification is performed using methanol and a catalyst (alkali hydroxide or alkali alcoholate). After the reaction, the excess methanol and other by-products must be removed to create a fuel suitable for use in diesel engines.
To ensure fuel quality, The DIN EN 14214 standard specifies the maximum concentrations for the by-products. Besides, the DIN EN 14110 standard defines a method for the determination of the methanol in biodiesel.
Biodiesel can consist of up to 100 different FAME. For the identification of methanol in such a complex matrix, gas chromatography in combination with headspace injection is the method of choice. This allows separation of methanol (low boiling point) from the FAME (high-boiling point) during the sample preparation.
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