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Frequently Asked Questions

About ASTM D6866 Method

Can ASTM D6866 testing be done onsite?

The sampling is done onsite, but the analysis is done offsite in a radiocarbon dating lab.


Why is radiocarbon dating the preferred method for determining the renewable carbon of materials and gases?

A material’s renewable carbon content (carbon from recently expired matter) is correlated to its carbon 14 content. Matter that came from renewable sources still has carbon 14 whereas those from fossil sources have no carbon 14 left. Through radiocarbon dating, the amount of carbon 14 is known. It is the preferred method because it has the technology to measure the quantity of carbon 14 present.


If ASTM D6866 is an application of radiocarbon dating, why not just use any radiocarbon dating lab?

Most radiocarbon dating labs do “their own thing” and have their own reporting formats. Not all labs have the experience in the sample pretreatment and calculations for ASTM D6866 testing. Commercial radiocarbon dating labs, on the other hand, have the manpower and technical expertise to provide reliable results.

Beta Analytic has an edge over other radiocarbon dating labs because it has contributed to the development of the method—and therefore has a thorough understanding of it—and it is accredited to ISO/IEC 17025:2005, an accreditation required by most regulators.


My ASTM D6866 or EN 15440 result is 60% biocarbon content. Does this mean that 60% of the carbon atoms in my sample are from biomass sources or 60% of the sample (weight) was from biomass, or are these both the same thing?

The ASTM D6866 or EN 15440 result mean that 60% of the carbon “in” the combusted mass was from renewable sources, NOT 60% “of” the combusted mass was renewable material.


How does ASTM D6866 account for variability in feedstock used as fuel?

The variability is not accounted for by ASTM D6866 but by the sampling method ASTM D7459. Given that the feedstock proportions will continually change, continuous collection of CO2 (via a controlled flow meter at the exit of a CEMS or stack probe) will give the true running average for a specific collection period (e.g. 1 week, 1 month).


How can I convert the ASTM D6866 result into percentage energy content?

Please refer to the report commissioned by the UK Renewable Energy Association and Columbia University, which goes into detail on how to calculate the energy content. Click here to download the document.


What is the difference between ASTM D6866 and EN 15440?

ASTM D6866 is more flexible in terms of applicable samples. It can be used for solid, liquid, and gas samples. EN 15440 is only applicable to solid recovered fuels and is used only in Europe.


What does pMC mean, and how is this used in ASTM D6866 and EN 15440?

The ratio between carbon 14 in a sample and the carbon 14 in a modern reference standard is reported as pMC or percent modern carbon. Through experiments, it is known that materials with 100% present-day carbon have a radiocarbon signature near 100.5 pMC; this value is set to be 100% renewable content. Materials that are from fossil sources, on the other hand, have 0 pMC and 0% renewable content. Materials with both fossil and present-day carbon will have pMC values greater than zero but lesser than 100.5.

About Samples for Submission

What is the sampling frequency established under the European Union Emissions Trading Scheme?

As stated in the EUETS 2007 FAQ, the minimum analysis frequency for solid waste (pure fossil or mixed biomass & fossil) is every 5,000 tons and at least 4 times a year.


Can I submit solid samples instead of gas (bag) samples for ASTM D6866 testing needed to comply with California’s AB32 program?

Yes, the California AB32 program allows solid fuel sampling in lieu of emissions sampling. Details are found on page 19 of the AB32 FAQ found here.


For gas samples, is it necessary to manually sort all materials before incineration?

No. Sorted or not, the materials will still have the same renewable content. One of the advantages of using the ASTM D6866 result is that you do not need to know the tonnage factor (i.e. the weighing and sorting of all the material). Whether you burn 1 ton or 20 tons of sample, the ASTM D6866 result would still be the same.


How much sample do I need for a gas bag or solid sample?

For gas samples, 1 liter is sufficient for testing if the gas collected is not diluted. If the sample is diluted, send five liters of gas. The gas sample should be collected according to the ASTM D7459 standard. For solid samples like RDF, SRF, tires, waste, and sludge, a minimum of 5 grams is sufficient (25 grams max).


What are the recommended containers for samples?

Gas samples should be sent in a gas bag. Solid samples can be placed in any container that can be sealed tightly.


I am located in Europe, where do I ship the samples?

Please send your samples to Beta Analytic’s London office at this address:

Beta Analytic Limited
London BioScience Innovation Centre
2 Royal College Street
London NW1 0NH
United Kingdom


I am located in Asia, where do I ship the samples?

If you are in Japan, please send your samples to our Japanese agent in Nagoya at the address below. If you are in China, send your samples to our Beijing facility. For other Asian countries, send samples directly to the U.S. headquarters.

Addresses:

Japan Representative:

Chikyu Kagaku Kenkyusho Corp.
1-608 Ueda-Honmachi
Tenpaku-ku
Nagoya 468-0007
Japan

China Representative:

Beta Analytic Inc.
5/F South Block Tower C, Raycom InfoTech Park
No.2 KeXueYuan South Road, Haidian District,
Beijing 100190
China

U.S. Headquarters:

Beta Analytic Inc.
4985 SW 74 Court
Miami, Florida 33155
USA


I am located in South America, where do I ship the samples?

Please send your samples to Beta Analytic’s Miami lab.

Beta Analytic Inc.
4985 SW 74 Court
Miami, Florida 33155
USA

Miscellaneous

What is the difference between Neutral Carbon, Renewable Carbon, Fossil Carbon, and Green Carbon?

Neutral carbon, renewable carbon, and green carbon all refer to carbon from biomass. They are also synonymous to biocarbon or biomass carbon. Fossil carbon, on the other hand, refers to carbon from fossil sources. Thus, carbon from burning plants would be called neutral carbon whereas carbon from burning coal or petroleum coke would be called fossil carbon.

Last Updated: August 2018