Browse Publications Technical Papers 2019-24-0140

Characterization of Deposits Collected from Plugged Fuel Filters 2019-24-0140

Fuel filters serve as a safety belt for modern compression ignition engines. To meet the requirements from environmental regulations these engines use the common rail injection system, which is highly susceptible to contamination from the fuel. Furthermore, the public awareness towards global warming is raising the need for renewable fuels such as biodiesel. An increased fuel variety brings a higher requirement for fuel filters as well. To better understand the process of filtration, awareness of the different possible contaminants from the field is needed. This study used several chemical characterization techniques to examine the deposits from plugged fuel filters collected from the field. The vehicle was run with a biodiesel blend available on the market. The characterization techniques included X-ray fluorescence (XRF), Fourier-transform infrared spectroscopy (FTIR) joined with attenuated total reflectance (ATR) sampling, gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC-MS), and lastly thermal gravimetric analyzer combined with FTIR and a GC-MS (TGA/FTIR/GC-MS). In addition the remaining ash from TGA was measured in energy-dispersive X-ray spectroscopy (EDX). Deposits were scraped from the used filter, and prepared for the different analytic methods. After cleaning the deposits with different solvents, GC-MS identified the traces of glycerol and sterols in the filter. After a transesterification reaction GC-MS could identify carboxylates corresponding to degraded biodiesel. The TGA/FTIR/GC-MS revealed the presence of polymeric compounds in the deposit. XRF did not require any previous cleaning, and was used to identify different metals present in the deposits. The mentioned deposits are characterized as soft particles, and could originate from the impurities of biodiesel, presence of engine oils, or degradation of the fuel. The presented results help to better understand the current concerns with the on-board filtration of fuels, and can help to create more robust fuel systems in the future.


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