Environment Agency published Biodiesel Quality Protocol by Nick Boley
November 26, 2014, 13:14
Filed under: Fuels, transport, UK Government Information, Waste | Tags: ,

The Environment Agency has published a new Biodiesel Quality Protocol which lays down when a biodiesel product made from waste oil is no longer a waste product.

It makes clear which waste products can be used (waste oil from cooking, rendered animal fats and waste oils no longer fit for consumption) and reminds producers of the testing regime which needs to be adhered to: the first batch produced, in order to show that the quality standard is being reached, and thence one in every ten batches, and at least once per month. Each batch must also be tested in-house and samples kept for 3 months in case further testing or examination is required.

BS EN 14214:202 must be used for this. This, amongst other things, lays down the testing procedure to be used for fatty acid methyl ester (FAME) analysis.


New UK Legislation on Marine and Motor Fuel Composition by Nick Boley
November 25, 2014, 11:57
Filed under: Fuels, UK Legislation | Tags: , ,

New legislation has been published in the United Kingdom regarding the quality and composition of marine and motor fuels.

The Merchant Shipping (Prevention of Air Pollution from Ships) and Motor Fuel (Composition and Content) (Amendment) Regulations 2014 (SI 3076/2014) implements EU Directive 33/2012 which specifies the maximum sulfur content of marine fuel oils, and also specifies the methods to be used to measure the sulfur levels in both marine and motor fuels.

Marine fuel oil containing 0.10 % by mass sulfur can not be placed on the market after 31 December 2014. Vessels at berth in UK ports can not fill their tanks with fuel with a greater sulfur content. For ships outside a sulfur oxide emission control area, the maximum sulfur content allowable in marine fuel is 3.50 % by mass until 31 December 2019, when it reduces to 0.5 %.

The reference measurement method for determining the sulfur content of both marine and motor fuels is now either ISO method 8754 (2003) or BS EN 14596. These methods employ the X-Ray Fluorescence (XRF) technique which is sufficiently sensitive to be able to accurately measure sulfur concentrations at these lower levels. ISO 8754 (2003) uses energy-dispersive XRF (EDXRF) and BS EN 14596 uses wavelength dispersive XRF (WDXRF).


EU Nanomaterial Definition to be delayed by Nick Boley

The European Commission has stated that it will be unable to meet its self-imposed deadline of December 2014 for agreeing an EU definition of what constitutes a nanomaterial.  This was announced at a symposium organised by the Nanotechnologies Industries Association (NIA) in Brussels recently.

The Commission are waiting for the third instalment of a report from their Joint Research Centre laboratory which will cover technical and scientific recommendations that should be taken into account in the review of the nanomaterial definition. This report is not available yet, and it is important to wait until it has been published. This blog has long considered that it is essential that any definition of a nanomaterial must be supported by validated measurement methods which can accurately enforce such a definition.

The Commission intend that the definition should apply across different sector-specific pieces of legislation, where nanomaterials are considered. This is to be supported, as the fragmentation of some EU regulation, with different rules in different sectors is something that should ideally be avoided.

It is hoped the definition will be agreed during the first half of 2015.

EU Report highlights silver threat to environment by Nick Boley
November 21, 2014, 15:18
Filed under: Environment/Ecology, EU Research, Nanomaterials | Tags: , ,

The European Commission has published a report in their Science For Environment News Alert, which highlights the concern over the fate of nanoparticulate silver (nano-silver) which is released into the aquatic environment. Nano-silver is used very effectively as a bactericide in many clothing products, particularly socks. They are considered to be anti-microbials, in that they release silver ions which inhibit bacterial and microbial growth.

However, it is this very behaviour which has prompted this concern. The propensity of nano-silver to release ionic silver is damaging to the environment as it is now widely thought that ionic silver is significantly more toxic to the aquatic environment than uncharged nanoparticles of silver.

In order to gain a more robust assessment of the environmental threat from silver, researchers do need to be able to measure levels of both charged ionic silver, and uncharged nano-silver. Measuring total silver will not enable ecotoxicologists to obtain an accurate picture of the ionic silver load to the environment. Differentiating between the two forms is essential, therefore, and we believe that work should be undertaken to achieve this; we do not believe that this task is impossible. Work should commence within LGC on this in the near future.

First nanoparticle CRM developed by Nick Boley
November 20, 2014, 11:50
Filed under: EU Information, Nanomaterials | Tags: ,

The world’s first certified reference material (CRM) of a nano-substance has been developed and released to the market by the Institute of Reference Materials and Measurements (IRMM) of the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre in Geel, Belgium.

The material, which consist of two distinct silica nanoparticle groups, with nominal particle sizes of 20nm and 80nm diameter (ERM®-FD102) allows testing laboratories to validate particle sizing methods in a metrologically sound manner in the nanoscale range (1 nm to 100 nm). It has been characterised using a range of techniques including dynamic light scattering, atomic force microscopy, electron microscopy, particle tracking analysis and centrifugal liquid sedimentation.

This marks a significant breakthrough in our metrological measurement capability needed to underpin the EU’s definition of a nanomaterial, which is due to published in its final form in early 2015. It is not possible to properly regulate this important new branch of the chemical industry without appropriate validated methods to ascertain what is and what is not a nanomaterial, and this CRM is a very important step on this path.


Fracking chemicals – EU developments by Nick Boley

As the possibility of large-scale commercial hydraulic fracturing (fracking) in Europe edges closer, a  generic exposure scenario (GES) is being drawn up by the European Chemical Industry Council (Cefic), the European Oilfield Specialty Chemicals Association (Eosca) and the International Association of Oil and Gas Producers (IOGP). This has been discussed by the EU’s Competent Authorities for REACH and CLP (Caracal) recently.

There is currently no requirement under REACH for dossiers for substances used in fracking operations to specifically include references to their use in fracking.

The industry group is also preparing a background document which will describe, in simple terms, the main steps in fracking, and will include current available data on potential emissions and exposure from each step. This will include a generic list of fracking additives, stating their type or function.

It will be important, going forward, to ensure that these additives, and all potentially harmful substances, used in fracking operations, can be measured accurately and down to environmentally sensitive low concentrations, in order that the consequences of this technology can be monitored and the environment and public safety appropriately protected as a result.


Mandate extended for EU CARACAL Subgroup on Nanomaterials by Nick Boley
November 13, 2014, 13:02
Filed under: EU Information, Nanomaterials | Tags:

The national competent authorities for REACH and CLP (Caracal) has extended the mandate of its sub-group on nanomaterials (CASG Nano) for a further 18 months, through to June 2016.

Two of the very important areas for which the group is responsible, within the frame of REACH, are:

  • Substance identification
  • Definition of a nanomaterial

These are clearly issues with a very significant measurement dimension, and work needs to be undertaken to ensure that the EU has validated methods for identifying, characterising and quantifying nanomaterials, which can support an agreed, practical, definition of a nanomaterial.