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ARS Home » Midwest Area » Peoria, Illinois » National Center for Agricultural Utilization Research » Bio-oils Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #377693

Research Project: Value-added Bio-oil Products and Processes

Location: Bio-oils Research

Title: Correlating the cloud point of biodiesel with its fatty acid methyl ester composition: Multiple regression analyses and the weighted saturation factor (wSF)

item Dunn, Robert - Bob

Submitted to: Fuel
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 4/2/2021
Publication Date: 5/6/2021
Citation: Dunn, R.O. 2021. Correlating the cloud point of biodiesel with its fatty acid methyl ester composition: Multiple regression analyses and the weighted saturation factor (wSF). Fuel. 300. Article 120820.

Interpretive Summary: Biodiesel has an issue with cloud point which is the temperature where gelling or forming solids occur in the fuel at cold temperatures. Biodiesel comes from various crop varieties (soybean, canola, sunflower), as well as other sources (used cooking oils), and what fatty acids found in these oils have an impact on the cloud point. ARS scientists developed a series of models that accurately predict the cloud point of complex fatty acid methyl ester mixtures (biodiesel). These developed models were shown to be more accurate than existing correlations. Results from this research will benefit the United Soybean Board, biodiesel industry, fuel producers and terminal operators that need to process, store and handle biodiesel during cool weather in moderate temperature climates.

Technical Abstract: Biodiesel is an alternative fuel that is typically composed of fatty acid methyl esters (FAME) from transesterification of fats or plant oils with methanol. When blended with conventional diesel fuels, biodiesel improves combustion quality and reduces harmful exhaust emissions. On the other hand, biodiesel has poor cold flow properties that can compromise its use during cold weather in moderate temperature climates. In the present study, nine mathematical models were proposed to calculate the cloud point (CP) of biodiesel based on the concentrations and melting properties of the FAME components. Experimental data were compiled for four biodiesel fuels made from canola, palm and soybean oils and yellow grease (CaME, PME, SME and YGME) plus 24 binary admixtures of these fuels. Four models were inferred from multiple regression analysis of CP as functions of Xi = (MPixi; MPi = melting point and xi = mole fraction of the FAME species). These models yielded high correlation coefficients (R2 = 0.997) and low absolute average deviations (AAD) = 0.60 K from analysis of calculated (CPcalc) versus measured data. The results helped to identify species that influenced the CP of FAME mixtures. Five additional models based on the weighted saturation factor (wSF) index as an independent variable for correlating the CP of biodiesel were inferred. The indices were calculated as weighted sums of Xi terms for species present in the FAME mixtures. Both an arbitrarily assigned weight factor (wi) and the MPi of the pure FAME species were used to calculate the wSF indices. The wSF index-based models were developed from regression analysis of FA profile and experimental CP data for the 28 FAME mixtures. Four models yielded R2 = 0.968–0.977 and AAD = 0.73 from analysis of CPcalc versus measured CP data.