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Open Access Research

Novel 1H low field nuclear magnetic resonance applications for the field of biodiesel

Paula Berman1, Adi Leshem1, Oren Etziony1, Ofer Levi2, Yisrael Parmet2, Michael Saunders3 and Zeev Wiesman1*

Author Affiliations

1 The Phyto-Lipid Biotechnology Lab, Departments of Biotechnology, Energy and Environmental Engineering, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, P.O. Box 653, Beer-Sheva, 84105, Israel

2 Department of Industrial Engineering and Management, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, P.O. Box 653, Beer-Sheva, 84105, Israel

3 Department of Management Science and Engineering, Stanford University, Stanford, CA, USA

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Biotechnology for Biofuels 2013, 6:55  doi:10.1186/1754-6834-6-55

Published: 16 April 2013



Biodiesel production has increased dramatically over the last decade, raising the need for new rapid and non-destructive analytical tools and technologies. 1H Low Field Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (LF-NMR) applications, which offer great potential to the field of biodiesel, have been developed by the Phyto Lipid Biotechnology Lab research team in the last few years.


Supervised and un-supervised chemometric tools are suggested for screening new alternative biodiesel feedstocks according to oil content and viscosity. The tools allowed assignment into viscosity groups of biodiesel-petrodiesel samples whose viscosity is unknown, and uncovered biodiesel samples that have residues of unreacted acylglycerol and/or methanol, and poorly separated and cleaned glycerol and water. In the case of composite materials, relaxation time distribution, and cross-correlation methods were successfully applied to differentiate components. Continuous distributed methods were also applied to calculate the yield of the transesterification reaction, and thus monitor the progress of the common and in-situ transesterification reactions, offering a tool for optimization of reaction parameters.


Comprehensive applied tools are detailed for the characterization of new alternative biodiesel resources in their whole conformation, monitoring of the biodiesel transesterification reaction, and quality evaluation of the final product, using a non-invasive and non-destructive technology that is new to the biodiesel research area. A new integrated computational-experimental approach for analysis of 1H LF-NMR relaxometry data is also presented, suggesting improved solution stability and peak resolution.

1H low field nuclear magnetic resonance; Biodiesel; Biodiesel physical properties; Chemometrics; Laplace inversion; Transesterification