Microbiological Contamination

…of Biogenic Fuels

Short Description

Liquid fuels in the heating market are constantly advanced by further development. Their supplement or substitution by regenerative fuels is particularly being worked on. Currently, framework conditions for the use of alternative fuels are developed. The aim is to use alternative liquid fuels in oil installations and oil devices, which are already available on the market. The possibility of corresponding technical modifications is taken into account. As the existing technical combustion systems are designed for fuels with a boiling range rather than a boiling point according to DIN 51603 – part 1, this requirement is carried into DIN SPEC 51603 – part 6 “Heating oil alternative”. DIN SPEC 51603-6 allows admixtures of FAME of up to 20% and of vegetable oil up to 5% into the low-sulphur heating oil. Using these fuels, the oxidation stability, the thermal and storing stability are important characteristics of the product because these characteristics and thus the usability have to be preserved during a storage time of several years. A microbiological contamination of liquid fuels in heating oil installations occurs seldom and irregularly. The reasons of microbiological contamination are usually not documented. It is conceivable that important nutrients, such as phosphor, sodium and potassium are incorporated into the fuel during the production process of FAME.


Working Objectives of the Project

As part of the project it has to be clarified, which microorganisms can occur in heating oil, in FAME / vegetable oil and in their mixtures. Moreover, it has to be investigated, if the potential of microbiological contamination increases when using biogenic fuels as compared to the use of mineral oil based heating oil. There are three main approaches in order to answer these questions: 1. Investigation of field systems and identification as well as isolation of microorganisms; 2. Laboratory tests to determine chemical-physical characteristics of fuel blends, such as hygroscopy and material compatibility; 3. Storage under defined conditions of inoculated fuels for the investigation of influencing variables on the growth of microorganisms.


Project Partners

  • OWI Oel-Waerme-Institut GmbH, Herzogenrath (including project management)
  • RWTH Aachen, Institut für Angewandte Mikrobiologie (IAMB – Institute of Applied Microbiology)


Project Promotion

The IGF-project (IGF-project-nr. 16596 N) of the research association mineral oil, natural gas and carbon (DGMK e. V.) was supported by the Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology by the AiF as part of the program for support of the cooperative industrial research (IGF) due to a decision by the German Bundestag.


Project Runtime May 2010 until February 2013


Contact Simon Eiden, M.Sc. Tel.: +49 (0)2407/ 9518-137 e-mail: S.Eiden@owi-aachen.de