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Nat Env Sci 2012 3(2): 1-6

Journal of Natural & Environmental


Original Article

Effects of Blended Biodiesel on Key Engine Parameters

Copperbelt University, Environmental Engineering Department, Kitwe, Zambia

Received: 13.07.2012

Accepted: 09.10.2012

Published: 30.10.2012

The biofuels debate in Zambia and the African continent at large sometimes lacks locally generated data. The blending of biodiesel with
fossil diesel for use in internal combustion engines has raised many questions on the final quality of the blended fuel. This study focused on
the effects of blending biodiesel obtained from Jatropha with fossil diesel on five parameters. The parameters were kinematic viscosity,
specific gravity, distillation temperature, flash point temperature and the calculated cetane index value. The blending ratios used were B5,
B10, B15 and B20. The methods used for analyses were based on American Society for Testing Materials (ASTM) standards for petroleum
products, lubricants and fossil fuels. The ASTM methods applied in this study were the existing and approved methods used to certify fossil
fuel quality in Zambia. The results indicated that the specific gravity, calculated cetane index, flash point temperature and the distillation
temperature parameters were all suitable for use in internal combustion engines for all the four blending ratios, while the kinematic viscosity
results for B15 and B20 were above the highest allowable limit. The B20 blend recorded the highest value for kinematic index of 7.2 x 10
2 -1
-6 2 -1
m s , about 31 percent above the upper allowable limit of 5.5 x 10 m s .
Due to limited feedstock levels, it is recommended that Jatropha based biodiesel in Zambia will have to be blended with fossil diesel, up until
the feedstock levels improve. The proposed blending ratios are 5 percent for biodiesel and 10 percent for bio-ethanol, according to the
Zambian Government Sixth National Development Plan of 2010.
Keywords: Blending Ratio, Calculated Cetane Index; Kinematic Viscosity; Feedstock, Flash Point

Corresponding Author: J. Mundike, e-mail:, Phone: +260 975 222 297, Fax: +260 212 228 319

Even though Jatropha has been used for various
traditional purposes like medicinal, live hedges and cosmetics
for a long time in Zambia, its commercial value was realized
around 2004 onwards. Oval Biofuels Limited first
implemented production of biodiesel from Jatropha on small
scale and commercial production in Zambia, between 2005
and 2008.
The global biofuels debate has pushed second generation
biofuels using non-food feedstock firmly under the spotlight
with the hope commonly expressed that they will soon
become fully commercialized at the large production scaleand
will become cost competitive with first generation and

petroleum based fuels. Biofuels may also resolve many of the

other issues raised concerning the first generation fuels (Sims
et al. 2008). Jatropha production has been promoted for its
perceived economic and ecological advantages. From the
perspective of private investors, a newly available energy
crop is expected to be less expensive to produce than other
energy crops such as rapeseed and soybeans (Swallow and
Tomatsu 2007).
In Zambia, Jatropha is the preferred bio-energy crop because
of a key number of attributes. Firstly, it is non-edible, and is
therefore not a food crop. It is potentially a high yielding oil
seed bio-energy crop. It performs similarly to petroleum
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J. Mundike & A. Musonda

diesel with comparable economy, horsepower and

combustion and requires between 10-20 percent less
maintenance. It is environmentally friendly with significantly
reduced emissions and can generally be handled and stored in
existing diesel infrastructure. Finally, Jatropha produces a
high quality biodiesel (Oval Biofuels 2008). The use of
Jatropha as a biofuel would therefore contribute to reduction
on reliance on petroleum and its crude oil products.
Diversification of rural income, economic growth in form of
rural employment and decreased reliance on external supplies
of crude oil, as well as increased and reliable security for
energy supply are some of the key economic benefits.
However, according to the Position Paper on Jatropha curcas
in Zambia (2008), it is stated, pure plant oil can be used as
fuel in diesel engines without any chemical modification of
the oil. However, since Zambia does not manufacture these
diesel engines and has no control over their designs, questions
arise as to how compatible our current fleet of vehicles will
be with the Jatropha curcas oil; what ratios of blending
Jatropha Curcas oil and diesel will need to be blended; what
effects the various components in the Jatropha curcas oil
might have with regard to wear and breakdown of engines
In view of the above, Jatropha based biodiesel is expected
to be blended with petroleum diesel during the initial stages
of its use. This paper analyzed some of the key parameters in
the fuel industry that play critical roles in fuel quality and use
then applied and related them to blended biodiesel. According
to the Press Statement by the Permanent Secretary, Ministry
of Energy and Water Development of April 18 th 2011, the
approved blending ratios up to the year 2015, in Zambia shall
be up to 5 percent biodiesel with fossil diesel and up to 10
percent bio-ethanol with petrol.

being lower boiling point (LBP), mid-boiling point (MBP)

and upper boiling point (UBP) (Speight 2008).
Density, which is mass per unit volume, is usually used
interchangeably with specific gravity. It has little significance
in terms of the quality of the fuel. Its significance is in
estimating freight rates, where calculations of weight to
volume and volume to weight are determined.
In this study, specific gravity was considered as one of
the key parameters related to weight and not so much in terms
of the quality of the blended fuel.
Blending Ratios
The Jatropha biodiesel was filtered through an ordinary
ash-less filter paper, before being mixed with mineral diesel.
This ensured the removal of any excess water in the Jatropha
oil and any other impurities. All the apparatus were rinsed
with the filtered biodiesel before use.
To obtain a B5 (5%) blend, 25 ml of biodiesel sample
was mixed with 475 ml of mineral diesel in a 500ml
measuring cylinder. The sample calculation was computed as
x500ml 25ml of biodiesel

x500ml 475ml of mineral diesel

The above-stated calculation formulae were used for the

blending ratios of B10, B15 and B20.
Exact volumes of the biodiesel and mineral diesel
samples were mixed in a 500 ml measuring cylinder as a
blended sample. The mouth of the measuring cylinder was
tightly closed with a stopper and thoroughly shaken by hands
for about 2 minutes. Thereafter, the mixture was allowed to
settle for about 2 3 minutes on a working bench. The
thoroughly mixed (blended) sample was then analyzed for
kinematic viscosity, specific gravity, distillation temperature,
flash point temperature and the calculated cetane index value.

Blending means mixing or combining of two or more
substances, which in this case was between Jatropha derived
biodiesel with mineral diesel. Biodiesel can be used as B100
(neat) or in a blend with petroleum diesel. A blend of 20%
biodiesel with 80% petro-diesel, by volume, is termed B20.
A blend of 2% biodiesel with 98% petro-diesel is B2, and
so on (Gerpen et al. 2004).
Kinematic viscosity can be defined as the resistance to
the flow of the fuel (liquid). The denser the fuel is the higher
its viscosity and the greater its resistance to flow. Since
temperature influences the fuel fluidity, it is important to
indicate the temperature at which the viscosity was
Distillation temperature provides a measure of the
temperature range over which a fuel volatizes or turns into
vapor. Three key temperatures are generally considered,

Distillation Temperature Test (ASTM D86 Method)

A distiller or distillation machine was used to determine
the distillation temperature, using the ASTM D86 method.
Three boiling point temperatures were obtained, being lower
boiling point, mid-boiling point and the upper boiling point.
This test method covers the atmospheric distillation of
petroleum products using a laboratory batch distillation unit
to determine quantitatively the boiling range characteristics of
such products as natural gasoline, light and middle distillates,
and automotive spark-ignition engine fuels etc, (Storer et al.
1994). The ASTM D86 method covers both automated and
manual instruments.

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The Calculated Cetane Index formula is particularly
applicable to straight-run fuels; catalytically cracked stocks,
and blended fuels, (Storer et al. 1994). This formula was
therefore applicable to the blended Jatropha biodiesel.

Kinematic Viscosity Test (ASTM D445 Method)

In this test method, time is measured for a fixed volume
of liquid to flow under gravity through the capillary of a
calibrated viscometer under a reproducible driving head and a
closely controlled and known temperature. The kinematic
viscosity is a product of the measured flow time and the
calibration constant of the viscometer, (Storer et al. 1994).

Flash Point Test (ASTM D93 Method)

The method can be applied and used to measure and
describe the properties of fuels in response to applied heat
and flame under controlled laboratory conditions. The flash
point is considered as the lowest temperature at which any
application of an ignition spark will cause the vapour above
the specimen fuel to ignite.
This test method covers the determination of the flash
point of petroleum products in the temperature range from 40
to 360C by a manual Pensky-Martens closed apparatus or an
automated Pensky-Martens closed cup apparatus. Flash point
is defined as the lowest temperature corrected to a barometric
pressure of 101.3 kPa (760 mm Hg), at which application of
an ignition source causes the vapors of a specimen of the
sample to ignite under specified conditions of test, (Storer et
al. 1994).
Each of the blended samples was poured into the test cup
of the automated Pensky-Martens apparatus. The automated
apparatus brought the sample material to a temperature of 15
5C, as the stirrer thoroughly mixed the water provided in
the water-bath. Then the test flame was applied automatically
at the lowest temperature at which sample vapours were

Specific Gravity Test (ASTM D1298 Method)

This test method covers the laboratory determination,
using a glass hydrometer. Values are measured at convenient
temperature, readings of density being reduced to 15C, and
readings of relative density (specific gravity) and American
Petroleum Institute (API) gravity to 15.6C, by means of
international standard tables, (Storer et al. 1994). Specific
gravity is determined by floating a hydrometer in the fuel and
noting the point at which the liquid fuel level intersects the
hydrometer scale. Corrections must then be made in
accordance with the temperature of the sample at the time of
the test, (in this case at 22C)
Each blended sample was transferred to a clean
hydrometer cylinder without splashing, to avoid the formation
of bubbles. The cylinder was placed in a vertical position with
minimum external disturbances in a water bath at 22C. Then
the hydrometer was gently lowered into the sample. After the
hydrometer had come to rest, floating freely away from the
walls of the cylinder, readings of specific gravity were
recorded correct to 4 decimal places.
Calculated Cetane Index Test (ASTM D976 Method)
The calculated cetane index formula represents a means
for directly estimating the ASTM cetane number of distillate
fuels from API gravity and mid-boiling point. The index
value, as computed from the formula, is termed the
Calculated Cetane Index. The CCI is determined from the
following equation (Storer et al. 1994):


The main concern to consumers and the general public
about blended biodiesel is the need for a specified and agreed
set of standards and guidelines for biodiesel certification for
producers and distributors so that the fuel can be used with
The kinematic viscosity, specific gravity, calculated
cetane index and the flash point temperature results are
tabulated in table 1 below.

CCI 420.34 0.016G 2 0.192G logM 65.01log M 2 0.0001809M 2

CCI 454.74 1641.416 D 774.74 D 2 0.554 B 97.803 log B 2

Kinematic Viscosity
The recommended range of values for kinematic
viscosity, according to Zambia Bureau of Standards (ZDS
369), 2009, is between 2 to 5.5 centistokes. The International
System Units (SI Units) for kinematic viscosity is metersquared per second. According to Mott et al
(2006), centistoke
. The blending ratios
1x10 6
of B15 and B20 were found to have kinematic viscosity
values above the recommended upper limit standard value of
5.5 x 10-6 m2s-1 for use in internal combustion engines.

G = API gravity, determined by test method D1298
M = Mid-boiling point temperature, (C), determined by
test method ASTM D86 and then corrected to standard
barometric pressure.
D = Density at 15C, (g/ml), determined by test method
ASTM D1298.
B = Mid-boiling temperature, (C), determined by test
method ASTM D86 and then corrected to standard
barometric pressure.
CCI = Calculated Cetane Index

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J. Mundike & A. Musonda

Table 1 Results for Kinematic Viscosity, Specific Gravity, Calculated Cetane Index and Flash Point Temperature of the
Blended Biodiesel Samples
Kinematic Viscosity
Specific Gravity
Calculated Cetane Index Flash Point
2 -1
(Unit less)
2 5.5
0.82 0.87


2 5.5


0.82 0.87







2 5.5


0.82 0.87







2 5.5


0.82 0.87





High kinematic viscosity values in the engine pipe

network and other compartments of any diesel engine may
experience flow related problems.
Kinematic viscosity: the resistance to flow of a fluid
under gravity. [The kinematic viscosity is equal to the
dynamic viscosity divided by density] The kinematic
viscosity is a basic design specification for the fuel injectors
used in diesel engines. According to Gerpen et al. (2004), too
high viscosities, will result in poor performance of injectors.
Figure 1 below graphically shows how the kinematic
viscosity values compared with the Zambian standard
(between 2 5.5 x 10-6 m2s-1). All the four blended samples
were above the lower limit of 2 x 10-6 m2s-1, but samples B15
and B20 blends were above the upper limit of 5.5 x 10-6 m2s-1.
However, B20 recorded the highest reading for kinematic
viscosity of 7.2 x 10-6 m2s-1, about 31 percent more than the
highest recommended value of 5.5 x 10 -6 m2s-1.The kinematic
viscosity of many fuels is important for their proper use, for
example, flow of fuels through pipe networks, injection
nozzles and orifices, and the determination of the temperature
range for proper operation of the fuel in burners. Many
petroleum products, as well as nonpetroleum materials,
depend upon the kinematic viscosity or viscosity of the liquid
being used, (Storer et al. 1994).
The viscosity of petroleum fuels is important for the
estimation of optimum storage, handling, and operational
conditions, (Storer et al. 1994). This applies to both blended
and pure biodiesel.

Figure 1 Kinematic Viscosity of Blended Biodiesel (horizontal lines

-6 2 -1
2 -1
showing the upper and lower limits of 5.5 x 10 m s and 2.0 x 10 m s

The importance of specific gravity relative to diesel

engine operation lies in the fact that todays standard
fuel/water separating techniques are based upon the
difference in density between the two substances. Specific
gravity is one of the basic and most important performance
indicators such as cetane number and it is also an important
parameter in connection with fuel storage and transportation.
According to Yuan et al. (2004), the specific gravity of
fuels is used as a precursor for a number of other fuel
properties, such as heating value, viscosity and cetane
In actual engine operation, fuel temperature in the
injector nozzle sac ranges from 160 to 260C. Therefore, the
effect of fuel temperature on fuel properties such as specific
gravity, density, and viscosity behavior is very important
(Seung et al. 2007). In turn, fuel atomization and evaporation
are strongly influenced by fuel properties such as specific
gravity, density, and viscosity (Yuan et al. 2004).

Specific Gravity
The standard specific gravity values for diesel fuels range
between 0.8200 to 0.8700. From the results obtained in table
1 above, all the four-blended biodiesel samples were within
the acceptable range of values. However, it was observed that
as the blending ratio increased, the specific gravity values
also increased. More biodiesel in the mixture (blend)
increased the density of the final blended sample, hence the
increase in specific gravity.

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J. Mundike & A. Musonda

typical flash point of pure methyl esters is greater than 200C,
classifying them as non-flammable. However, during
production and purification of biodiesel, not all the methanol
may be removed, making the fuel flammable and more
dangerous to handle and store if the flash point falls below
130C. Excess methanol in the fuel may also affect engine
seals and elastomers (rubbers) and corrode metal components.
In assessing fuels for overall flammability hazards, flash
point, is one of the properties considered. Flash point test
results and guidelines may be used as key parameters of a fire
risk assessment, which takes into account all of the factors
that are pertinent to an assessment of a fire hazard of a
particular end use. The flash-point temperature is therefore a
useful guide in road transportation on land, shipping on
oceans and seas, and safety regulations to define combustible
and flammable materials.
The flash point as specified is not directly related to
engine performance. It is however, of importance in
connection with legal requirements and safety precautions
involved in fuel handling and storage and are normally
specified to meet insurance and fire regulations (Guthrie et al.

Calculated Cetane Index

The cetane number is a measure of the ignition
performance of a diesel fuel obtained by comparing it with
reference fuels in a standardized engine test. Cetane for
diesel engines is analogous to the octane rating in a spark
ignition engine it is a measure of how easily the fuel will
ignite in the engine, (Gerpen et al. 2004).
According to the Zambia Bureau of Standards (ZDS
369), 2009, the acceptable value for Calculated Cetane Index
(CCI) is 50 and above. All the four blended samples of
biodiesel were found to be above the acceptable range of
values, as shown in table 1 above.
However, it was observed that as the blending ratios
increased, the CCI values decreased. As more biodiesel was
blended with mineral diesel, it tended to lower the calculated
cetane index values. Despite the reduction, the values were all
within the acceptable limit.
Biodiesel has a higher cetane rating than petroleum
(mineral) diesel. The cetane number is an indication of how
well the fuel will ignite when it is compressed in an internal
combustion engine. Cetane number is therefore the measure
of the fuels ignition and combustion quality characteristics,
(Storer et al. 1994). Ignition quality is therefore associated
with cetane number. The lower the cetane number of a fuel,
the greater the ignition delay, and the longer the period of
time between fuel injection and the beginning of the rapid
pressure rise associated with fuel ignition and combustion.
Ignition quality is usually expressed in cetane value as
determined by a mixture of cetane, which has a high ignition
quality, and alpha methyl naphthalene, which has a lowignition quality. The percentage of the cetane by volume is
termed the cetane number (Guthrie et al. 1960).
Generally it is noted that the boiling temperature of the
fuel increases as the cetane number increases. The cetane
number therefore is the only property that could be related to
the self-ignition of fuels. Volatility alone cannot be the
determining factor for initiating combustion.

Distillation Temperature
The results in table 2 below show the LBP, MBP and
UBP for each of the four blending ratios. During the
distillation and condensation process, the LBP is the
temperature at which the first vapors are collected and
condensed, while the MBP is the temperature at which half of
the fuel would have been evaporated and the UBP is the
temperature at which the last volume of fuel (95%) would
have been evaporated, (Speight 2008).The significance and
application for distillation temperature test is both in aviation
and automotive fuels, affecting starting, warm-up, and
tendency to vapour lock at high operating temperature or at
high altitude, or both, (Storer et al. 1994). From the results in
table 2 below, all the four blended samples had acceptable
values of distillation temperature, the lowest temperature
recorded was 162.5C while the highest was
395.5C.Distillation limits are often included in petroleum
product specifications, in commercial contract agreements,
process refinery/control applications, and compliance to
regulatory rules, (Storer et al. 1994). Volatility is the major
determinant of the tendency of a fuel mixture to produce
potentially explosive vapours. Therefore, the distillation test
(volatility) characteristics of a fuel play an important role on
their performance and safety. The boiling range of any fuel
gives information on the composition, the properties, and the
behavior of the fuel during storage and use. According to
Guthrie et al. (1960), the fuel volatility requirements depend
on the engine design, size, nature of the speed and load
variations, and starting and atmospheric conditions.

Flash Point Temperature

Table 1 above shows the results of the flash point
temperature for each of the four blended biodiesel samples.
From the results, the flash point temperature for all the
four samples of blended biodiesel were found to be above the
recommended value of 60C, which also is the flash point
temperature of mineral diesel. The blended biodiesel flash
point temperature increased with an increase in the blending
ratio, the highest was 103.4C for B20 blend.
The flash point temperature is a key measure in
determining the tendency of any fuel to form a flammable
mixture with air under specified conditions. It also helps in
assessing the overall flammability hazard of any fuel (Storer
et al. 1994).
According to Gerpen et al. (2004), flash point is a
determinant for flammability classification of materials. The

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Table 2 Results for Distillation Temperature of Blended Biodiesel Samples



Seung HY, Park SH, and Chang SL, 2007. Experimental Investigation on the
Fuel Properties of Biodiesel and Its Blends at Various Temperatures.
ies.pdf. Accessed 16 March 2012
Sims R, Taylor M, Saddler J, Mabee W, 2008. From 1stTo2nd Generation
Biofuel Technologies An Overview of Current Industry and RD & D
Activities. Accessed 6
December 2011
Speight JG, 2008. The Chemistry and Technology of Petroleum, CRC Press,
New York, USA
Storer RA, Cornillot JR, Fazio PC, 1994. Annual Book of American Society
for Testing Materials (ASTM) Standards, Petroleum Products,
Lubricant and Fossil Fuels, Library of Congress, Philadelphia, USA
Swallow B, Tomatsu Y, 2007. Jatropha curcas Biodiesel Production in Kenya
Economics and Potential Value Chain Development for Smallholder
DF. Accessed 16 April 2012
Yuan Y, Hansen A, Zhang Q, 2004. The Specific Gravity of Biodiesel Fuels
and Their Blends with Diesel Fuel. Agricultural Engineering
International: the CIGR Journal of Scientific Research and
VI. Accessed
28 March 2012
2ndEdition.pdf. Accessed 26 November 2010

The main findings of this study revealed that out of the

five parameters considered, distillation temperature, flash
point temperature, specific gravity and the calculated cetane
index were found to be applicable in diesel engines for all the
blending ratios considered (B5, B10, B15 and B20).
However, kinematic viscosity was only suitable for use for
blending ratios of B5 and B10.
According to this study, Jatropha based biodiesel can be
blended with mineral diesel up to the initially recommended
national targets of 5% (biodiesel) and even above (up to
20%).The specific gravity and the flash point temperature
results were both within the acceptable range of values.
Blending pure Jatropha based biodiesel with mineral diesel
improved or increased the flash point temperature. The
distillation temperature and the CCI results were found to be
suitable for use in diesel engines, while kinematic viscosity
results were above the highest allowable limit for B15 and
B20 blends.
The results further indicated that all the parameters tested
for were acceptable for use in diesel engines except for
kinematic viscosity for B20, which was above the upper limit
of kinematic viscosity value (5.5 x 10-6 m2s-1).
The staff at the National Institute for Scientific and
Industrial Research (NISIR) of Kitwe is thanked for the oil
extraction machinery for Jatropha seeds into biodiesel. The
Chief Chemist and his laboratory staff at Indeni Petroleum
Refinery in Ndola provided all the apparatus and equipment
for all the analyses. Furthermore, the Biofuel Association of
Zambia played a key role in providing Jatropha seeds from
which the biodiesel was extracted.
Gerpen Van J, B. Shanks, Pruszko R, 2004. Biodiesel Production
Technology; National Renewable Energy Laboratory, U.S. Department
of Energy. Accessed 27 November 2010
Guthrie VB, Benz GR, and Bland WF, 1960. Petroleum Products Handbook.
McGraw-Hill Book Company, New York, USA
Mott RL, Aziz AA, Noor FM, 2006. Applied Fluid Mechanics, Pearson
Prentice Hall, Singapore, Malaysia
Oval Biofuels Limited; Accessed 3 March 2010

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