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Title: Ethyl levulinate: A potential bio-based diluent for biodiesel which improves cold flow properties

item JOSHI, HEM - Clemson University
item Moser, Bryan
item Shah, Shailesh
item SMITH, WILLIAM - Southeast Biodiesel
item WALKER, TERRY - Clemson University

Submitted to: Biomass and Bioenergy
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 4/15/2011
Publication Date: 5/14/2011
Citation: Joshi, H., Moser, B.R., Shah, S.N., Smith, W.F., Walker, T. 2011. Ethyl levulinate: A potential bio-based diluent for biodiesel which improves cold flow properties. Biomass and Bioenergy. 35:3262-3266.

Interpretive Summary: This research reveals that a bio-based additive can improve the low temperature usability of biodiesel. The objective of this study was to evaluate the potential of ethyl levulinate as an additive or blend component for biodiesel. Ethyl levulinate is obtained from biologically-derived materials and is compatible with biodiesel. Improvement of the low temperature properties of biodiesel is important, since one of the principle disadvantages of biodiesel in comparison to petrodiesel is undesirable solidification (freezing) of biodiesel at higher temperatures. These results will be important to biodiesel producers, distributors, and end-users (customers) because a new fuel additive or blend component was discovered that improves the low temperature properties of biodiesel. This research may ultimately improve market penetration, availability, and public perception of domestically produced agricultural fuels such as biodiesel, thus affording greater national independence from imported petroleum-based fuels.

Technical Abstract: The physical properties of biodiesel from soybean, canola, cottonseed and poultry fat methyl esters were improved with addition of ethyl levulinate with increasing concentration. The effect of adding ethyl levulinate was determined by studying its influence on the acid value, cloud point, pour point, cold filter plugging point, induction period (110 deg C; EN 14112), kinematic viscosity and the flash point of the methyl esters, with increasing concentration of ethyl levulinate. The results showed improved low temperature properties of the methyl esters compared to unblended samples of biodiesel. In addition, kinematic viscosity and flash point decreased with increasing content of ethyl levulinate added to the biodiesel fuels. Parameters such as acid value and oxidative stability were essentially unchanged upon addition of ethyl levulinate. In summary, ethyl levulinate appears to be an effective cold flow improving blend component for biodiesel fuels.