The worldwide growth in the production and use of biofuel products makes it necessary to transport them by pipelines instead of tankers. 
It is important to understand the impact of transporting new fuel products in pipelines.

The impact of transporting biofuels in multi-product pipelines

Consider a multi-product pipeline that transports everything from Jet-A1 to biodiesel. It was well known that biodiesel contains FAME (Fatty Acid Methyl Ester), however, following recent extensive research, it is now known that FAME contamination in Jet-A1 can affect the fuel systems of aircraft.

How can FAME contaminate jet fuel?

The bio-component in biodiesel is a surface-active material, and FAME can adhere to pipe and tank walls during the transportation of biodiesel. The FAME can contaminate the next product transported in the pipeline.

What is the impact of FAME in jet fuel?

FAME alters the thermal stability of jet fuel causing coke deposits within the aircraft's fuel system. FAME can also alter the freezing point of the fuel, which can result in fuel gelling leading to engine operational problems and possible engine flame-out. The risks are serious.

Certificate of Analysis and Recertification Testing generally requires FAME testing prior to delivery to an airport whenever jet fuel is moved in non-dedicated systems carrying diesel/gas oil to ensure that FAME content is at acceptable levels. Although the aviation industry has agreed that contamination must remain below 50 mg/kg for the jet fuel to be ‘on-spec’, many pipeline owners may still apply the previous 5 mg/kg limit. The industry now tests for FAME, however, there are other precautions that can be taken prior to delivery of any product.

To prevent contamination, it is important to ensure that jet fuel does not immediately follow a batch of biodiesel.
In the event of any known contamination of jet fuel, it is important to know what was in your pipeline at any given time in history. This way you can understand where any contamination may originate from.

How can an Atmos system help?

Atmos Batch enables full tracking of products through a pipeline, even when transporting many types of products for various stakeholders to different locations. Atmos Batch enables accurate forecasting of where batches start and end, the size of each batch volume, and the estimated arrival time of each batch at its destination. This ensures that the correct product goes to the correct end user and, more importantly, that no product is contaminated.

For further information on FAME limits and testing procedures, please reference JIG Bulletin No. 75 here

By: Atmos International
Date: 11 October 2019