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Testing Biomass Content of Biofuel Blends via Radiocarbon Dating

The 2007 study by the Institute of Geological and Nuclear Sciences Limited for New Zealand’s Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority described a method for the verification of biofuel blends using radiocarbon dating.

The EECA wanted to develop an appropriate monitoring system to verify biofuel producers’ claims of the biofuel percentages in their products. The method described in the study used radiocarbon dating techniques to verify that the blended fuel contains the specified proportion of biofuel and that the claimed “biofuel” does not come from fossil sources.

According to the study (excerpts):

“Radiocarbon analysis can be used to determine the presence of a modern biological component in a fuel blend, and it can be applied in all situations of a two-component fuel mix where one component is derived from recent plant material or animal material and the other comes from fossil sources.

“For the estimation of the mixture proportions in a blend, it should be possible to measure a mixing proportion to within 0.5%, i.e. to calculate a mixing proportion to an accuracy of ± 0.5%.”

About EECA

The EECA is the main agency responsible for helping to deliver the New Zealand Government’s energy efficiency agenda. The agency aims to encourage, promote, and support energy efficiency, energy conservation, and the use of renewable energy sources. It has developed the New Zealand Energy Efficiency and Conservation Strategy in conjunction with the country’s Ministry for the Environment.