Biocarbon analysis

Biocarbon analysis determines the modern carbon percentage in the sample. The method is based on sample preparation, followed by ultra low-level liquid scintillation counting, and is in compliance with the standard “ISO 21644:2021 - Solid recovered fuels — Methods for the determination of biomass content”. Using the Hidex sample preparation and LSC instrument, we provide a reliable determination of biocarbon percentage with ultra-sensitive C-14 measurement.


Fossil based fuels are increasingly replaced by fuels of renewable origin, such as hydrotreated vegetable oil (HVO) and bioethanol. 14C is a radioactive isotope of carbon present in the atmosphere that is taken up by living organisms among other isotopes of carbon, such as, 12C and 13C. While for crude oil, it is understood that there is no radioactive carbon based on the age of crude oil being million years old, and the half-life of 14C being 5730 years. On the other hand, fuel crops are harvested within a year of planting requiring analysis testing to quantify the biocarbon percentage.

This is in line with the Paris Agreement and with EU Directive 2018/2001 on the promotion of the use of energy from renewable sources. Furthermore, a recent EU Regulation 2023/1640 describes methodologies to determine the share of biofuel and biogas for transport, produced from biomass being processed with fossil fuels in a common process. 

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Solid recovered fuel

Solid recovered fuel (SRF) is waste-based material that is used for energy production, for example, in heating plants and cement manufacturing. SRF is produced from various type of municipal, industrial and commercial waste such as textile, paper, cardboard, rubber and plastic. SRF is non-hazardous and contains a relatively high calorific value with low moisture quantity. Pelleted solid recovered fuel is an alternative fuel source to fossil fuels such as coal and oil. 

SRF contains a variable percentage of biomass-based material. Biomass is derived from organic material and decreases the greenhouse gas emission compared to fossil-based energy sources. The biomass fraction has financial value, for example, due to EU´s Emission Trading System (ETS). 

The biomass content in SRF can be determined by measuring C-14 level as described in ISO 1644:2021 - Solid recovered fuels - Methods for the determination of biomass content. The analysis requires extreme precision during sample preparation and ultra-sensitive carbon-14 level analysis. The Hidex 600 OX Oxidizer and Hidex ULLA ultra low level LSC analyser are ideal devices for the determination of biocarbon percentage from solid samples. 

Hidex 600 OX Oxidizer StandardHidex ULLA Ultra Low Level Analyzer

Carbon sequestration

Carbon sequestration is a natural method consisting of photosynthetic carbon dioxide capture by plants, followed by carbon translocation to roots and further down to terrestrial micro-organisms. This natural phenomenon is one of the most efficient ways for offsetting anthropogenic CO2 emissions, as very large quantities of carbon can be stored in soil. However, the capacity of crops for sequestering carbon varies and can depend on many factors including but not limited to plant species, root carbon allocation and climatic conditions, and is thus an important research subject for climate change mitigation.

Hidex 600 OX Oxidizer is a versatile sample preparation tool for studying plant and soil samples labelled with C-14 isotope. The carbon-14 isotope tracer is extracted and collected into LSC cocktail automatically with Hidex 600 OX Oxidizer and the LSC vials are ready to be measured with Hidex LSC counters.

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Biocarbon analysis plays an important role in addressing the increasing shift towards renewable energy sources, particularly in the context of biofuels and solid recovered fuel (SRF). With the escalating replacement of fossil-based fuels by renewable alternatives like hydrotreated vegetable oil (HVO) and bioethanol, the quantification of biocarbon percentage becomes a crucial step. Unlike crude oil, whose age renders it devoid of radioactive carbon, fuel crops are harvested within a year of planting, necessitating precise analysis to determine the biocarbon content. Biocarbon analysis extends to SRF, a waste-derived material used for energy production, where determining biomass content is essential for assessing its environmental impact. Additionally, biocarbon analysis finds application in studying carbon sequestration, a natural process vital for mitigating anthropogenic CO2 emissions. The Hidex 600 OX Oxidizer and Hidex ULLA ultra-low level LSC analyzer emerge as indispensable tools for precise and sensitive carbon-14 level analysis, contributing to a comprehensive understanding of biocarbon dynamics in different environmental contexts.

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