NMR has been used in petroleum research since its inception as a commercial product, and the fuel additives field has since become a heavily studied area.
When used in fuel and additives research, 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.
Petroleum researchers 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 offers dedicated NMR tools specifically tailored for the demands of this application, such as high temperature probes that have been specially designed to operate at 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 petrochemical and polymer research.
A technique for the analysis of fuels and additives that has been around for over 60 years, NMR can help enhance the quality of fuel and additive products and respond to calls for change in what types of fuels 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 fuel and additive research.