The European Committee for Standardization (CEN) Technical Committee CEN/TC 411 has published CEN/TS 16640:2014: Biobased Products – Determination of the biobased carbon content of products using the radiocarbon method. CEN had previously published technical specifications also based on the radiocarbon content of biobased materials.
There are three test methods specified in CEN/TS 16640 for measuring radiocarbon content – liquid scintillation counting (LSC), beta-ionization (BI), and accelerator mass spectrometry (AMS). Under CEN/TS 16640, the biobased carbon content of a material is expressed by a fraction of sample mass, as a fraction of the total carbon content, or as a fraction of the total organic carbon content. This calculation method is applicable to any product containing organic carbon, including biocomposites.
A technical specification (TS) is a pre-standard that contains technical requirements. Although it is produced and approved by a CEN Technical Committee, it doesn’t have the status of a European Standard (EN). It may be adopted as a national standard. Its maximum lifetime though is only between two to three years. It can be converted into an EN standard if it will go through a CEN Enquiry and a Formal Vote.
The CEN/TS 16640 is similar to previously released technical specifications CEN/TS 16137 and CEN/TS 16295, which were published by a technical committee focused on plastics. These three technical specifications are based on radiocarbon analyses. CEN/TS 16640 is applicable to all biobased products whereas the other two are only applicable to plastics and polymers.
CEN/TS 16137 provides reference test and calculation methods for determining the biobased carbon content of plastics and other polymers that contain organic carbon.
CEN/TS 16295 provides requirements for the declaration, including statements and labels, of the biobased carbon content of polymers, plastic materials, semi-finished plastic products, and finished plastic products, including composites.
Technical Committee CEN/TC 411 is currently working on other specifications and reports. As of April 2014, the FprCEN/TR 16721 and FprCEN/TS 16766 are still under approval. FprCEN/TR 16721 “Overview of methods to determine the biobased content” presents techniques in addition to the radiocarbon method and includes process inputs. FprCEN/TS 16766 “Biobased solvents – Requirements, application classes and test methods” defines the specification, the application classes, and the test methods related to the requirements for biobased solvents, including the minimum percentage of biomass, among others.
ISO/IEC 17025:2005-accredited Beta Analytic measures the biobased carbon content of a material through AMS. Compared to the other two methods specified in CEN/TS 16640, AMS analysis is more accurate with standard deviation as low as 0.1%.
Based in Miami, Florida, Beta Analytic accepts samples throughout Europe via its forwarding office in London, UK.
Beta Analytic supports Europe’s biobased industry by providing high-quality biobased carbon content measurements. The company is not affiliated with the CEN or any of its technical committees.