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NMR for Fuel Analysis

Detailed Analytical Solutions for Fuel and Additives Applications with High Resolution NMR

NMR has found application in the fuel industry since its inception as a commercial product, and the fuel additives field has since become a heavily studied area of the industry.

Bruker’s high resolution NMR spectroscopy provides a non-destructive analysis technique that provides highly detailed information on a material’s molecular structure, its dynamic processes, and insights into chemical reactions occurring within it.

Magnetic properties of particular atomic nuclei are targeted with NMR in order to reveal this deep insight into a material. These nuclei align with an applied magnetic field due to a ‘spin’ property unique to nuclei with an odd number of protons or neutrons. How these nuclei respond to the magnetic field provides information on their molecular identity.

Samples are left undamaged for further analysis after being put through NMR analysis, and there is little sample preparation needed, with even complex samples not needing to be separated.

NMR for Fuel Analysis

NMR has found application in the fuel industry since its inception as a commercial product, and the fuel additives field has since become a heavily studied area of the industry. Often, fuel companies will carry out this research themselves, with Texaco being one of the first companies to use NMR to acquire detailed information on the chemical makeup of raw petroleum.

When used in the fuel and additives industry, NMR can be used to analyze raw materials, such as crude oil, coal, tar, pitch, and refined petrochemicals. When analyzing crude oil, one feature in particular can offer valuable information on where the oil is from and what properties it will possess when used as a fuel: its aromaticity. Measuring the aromaticity of crude oil looks specifically at the ratio of aliphatic to olefinic or aromatic bonds or carbons in the oil.

High resolution NMR can also be used to study what happens to fuels, lubricants, and additives after they have been used.

NMR for Additives Analysis

Fuel companies themselves also undertake a lot of chemical research into the additives that are introduced into fuel. It is sometimes necessary for these materials to be studied at very high temperatures in order to reduce the material’s viscosity and make it easier to analyze.

Bruker offer dedicated NMR tools specifically tailored for the demands of this application, such as high temperature probes that have been specially designed to operate up to 400 °C for high temperature additives analysis. Large volume probes, which are part of Bruker’s range of cryogenically cooled probes, offers a 10 mm sample diameter over the usual 5 mm diameter, and has found exclusive application in both the petrochemical and polymer industries.

The Benefits of High Resolution NMR

An analysis technique that found application in the analysis of fuels and additives over 60 years ago, NMR can help enhance the quality of fuel and additive products and respond to calls for change in what types of fuel are used by helping researchers to better understand materials at the molecular level. Ranging from quality control, quantification and purity analysis, to characterization and identification, high resolution NMR is a non-destructive, highly detailed analysis technique that is an asset to large-scale applications in the fuel and additive industry.