NREL and ORNL experiments show that most problems
occur primarily with polymeric and metallic material, and
new fuels most likely will affect elastomers.
Much of the research has focused on ethanol and isobutanol and has involved collaborations with Underwriters
(Isobutanol is a four-carbon alcohol (butyl alcohol) produced from the same feedstocks as ethanol, including corn
grain and other biomass. Some gas stations in Texas sell a
12. 5 percent biobutanol blend.)
Researchers have performed these exposure studies on
numerous infrastructure elastomers, plastics, metals and sealants. In addition, solubility analyses on polymeric materials
have provided insight to several observed behaviors and have
identi;ed some potential incompatibilities with fuel chemistry that should be noted.
Although it is not a substitute for empirical and ;eld evaluations, solubility analysis allows for a rough compatibility
prediction for a fuel chemistry and polymer material (
provided accurate solubility parameters can be obtained).
ORNL has conducted solubility analyses on 40 bio-blendstock fuel candidates with infrastructure polymeric
materials. The fuel candidates included multiple alcohols,
esters, ethers, ketones, alkenes and one alkane. These compounds were evaluated as neat molecules and as blends with
the gasoline surrogate, dodecane and a mix of dodecane and
10 percent ethanol (E10D).
Researchers analyzed the solubility of these fuels using
Hansen solubility parameters, a method of predicting if one
material will dissolve in another. The materials included
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