Comprehensive two-dimensional gas chromatography for the analysis of synthetic and crude-derived jet fuels

van der Westhuizen R. ; Ajam M. ; De Coning P. ; Beens J. ; de Villiers A. ; Sandra P. (2011)

Article

Fully synthetic jet fuel (FSJF) produced via Fischer-Tropsch (FT) technology was recently approved by the international aviation fuel authorities. To receive approval, comparison of FSJF and crude-derived fuel and blends on their qualitative and quantitative hydrocarbon composition was of utmost importance. This was performed by comprehensive two-dimensional gas chromatography (GC × GC) in the reversed phase mode. The hydrocarbon composition of synthetic and crude-derived jet fuels is very similar and all compounds detected in the synthetic product are also present in crude-derived fuels. Quantitatively, the synthetic fuel consists of a higher degree of aliphatic branching with less than half the aromatic content of the crude-derived fuel. GC × GC analyses also indicated the presence of trace levels of hetero-atomic impurities in the crude-derived product that were absent in the synthetic product. While clay-treatment removed some of the impurities and improved the fuel stability, the crude-derived product still contained traces of cyclic and aromatic S-containing compounds afterwards. Lower level of aromatics and the absence of sulphur are some of the factors that contribute to the better fuel stability and environmental properties of the synthetic fuel. GC × GC was further applied for the analysis of products during Jet Fuel Thermal Oxidation Testing (JFTOT), which measures deposit formation of a fuel under simulated engine conditions. JFTOT showed the synthetic fuel to be much more stable than the crude-derived fuel. © 2011 Elsevier B.V.

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