FAME in mineral oil products particularly heating fuel
Politicians want to support the use of renewable raw materials for heating of buildings as a means to improve the environment, assist farmers and to secure jobs. Because of their similarity with mineral oil products preference is given to the use of fatty acid methyl esters (FAME). The European Commission has mandated the European Commission for Standardi-sation CEN to define a specification for FAME as a heating fuel.
If a standard is to be developed, test methods and critical values have to be determined, that allow a good prediction of the field performance of the products under consideration. For this a determination of the relationship between field performance and laboratory test results is required. So far only a limited amount of data for the use of FAME as a heating fuel is available, because in the past fatty acid methyl esters have mostly been marketed as diesel fuel. As some requirements for heating fuels are similar to those of diesel fuel, the experiences obtained with this are useful.
This literature survey summarises the currently available results. It can be seen that so far especially for oxidative and thermal stability no satisfactory test methods exist. FAME preferably should be stored in the dark excluding air. Presence of water can result in hydrolysis and microbes could cause problems. Manufacturers of heating equipment have found malfunction by corrosion.
Two research projects that have been approved by the European Commission will help to gain further knowledge.