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Reference materials for fuel analysis

Fuel quality is an important energy issue for industry as well as for citizens. When using fuels in car engines or domestic heating systems consumers need to be sure that the fuel does not cause any malfunction or damage to their equipment. Similarly, consumers are increasingly aware also of the environmental impact of their fuel consumption. The JRC provides certified reference materials for fuel analysis for a wide range of parameters relevant for the quality and environmental impact of fuels, be it conventional fossil fuels or biofuels.

The share of renewable energy supply has nearly doubled between 1999 and 2009 (Eurostat Newsrelease 53/2011). The European Union promotes the use of biofuels and strictly regulates the quality of fuels. There is an increasing demand for reliable and comparable measurements on fuels, particularly in view of European Directives promoting renewable energies (Directive 2009/28/EC) and setting out quality requirements for fuel (Directive 2009/30/EC). In a White Paper on Internationally Compatible Biofuel Standards published by a Tripartite Task Force of the European Union, Brazil and the United States of America on 31 December 2007 the need for further harmonisation of biofuels standards (i.e. technical standards for the quality of biofuels) was identified and requires corresponding measurement standards. ‘

Ongoing work at the JRC includes the development of certified reference materials for biodiesel (JRC65185 , JRC65186). Despite the increased use of renewable energy sources, fossil fuels in 2011 still accounted for 75 % of energy used in Europe. Efficient use of this fossil energy is therefore paramount, as is recognised in the Flagship Strategy "Resource efficient Europe". Moreover, the rapid economic development of, inter alia, India and China resulted in bottlenecks on the energy market. For this reason, the Flagship Strategy "An industrial policy for the globalisation era" calls for measures to tackle the challenge in commodity markets and to promote liberalisation of trade to create a level playing field for industry on a global scale.

One important prerequisite for liberalised trade and free markets is comparability of measurements on fossil fuels, as this ensures that specifications can be compared globally. This comparability of measurements in turn is achieved by using standardised methods in accredited laboratories, who demonstrate their competence using certified reference materials. The JRC  supports these initiatives by providing certified reference materials for the testing of fossil fuels to laboratories in the EU and worldwide. These certified reference materials are used in a wide range of tests, among which sulfur content of petrol, cold filter plugging point, a property relevant for the cold temperature behaviour of diesel, or a marker for distinguishing diesel from fuel oil for heating purposes (the so called Euromarker).

The full range of certified reference materials available from the JRC can be retrieved via the online catalogue for reference materials.