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The Chemical Educator

ISSN: 1430-4171 (electronic version)

Table of Contents

Abstract Volume 19 (2014) pp 160-166

The Effect of a Few Key Parameters on the Instrumental Analysis of Fatty Acid Methyl Esters (FAME) in Biodiesel by Gas Chromatography-Mass Spectrometry (GC-MS)

Wes E. Steiner* and Kelsey A. Morrison

Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, Eastern Washington University, 226 Science Building, Cheney, WA 99004,
Received April 10, 2014. Accepted May 21, 2014.

Published: 6 June 2014

Abstract. The effect of a few key instrumental control parameters on the instrumental analysis of coconut fatty acid methyl esters (FAME) compounds in coconut B20 biodiesel using gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC-MS) is presented here for the instrumental analysis laboratory course. FAME compounds are some of the most common non-polar long chain hydrocarbon compounds with a polar methyl ester group that arefound in petroleum products, such as biodiesel, where they tend to often be greater in concentration than other long chain hydrocarbons. FAME compounds are considered to be a renewable resource under the Energy Policy Act (EPAct) of 2005 and the Energy Independence and Security Act (EISAct) of 2007, where they are primarily derived from plant based feedstocks for the production of alternative fuels such as biodiesel. For the integration GC-MS techniques into the instrumental analysis laboratory course this article works to describe an experimental approach to educators. GC-MS, while universally applicable, has just begun to be integrated into undergraduate instruction as a didactic tool for the analysis of organic compounds utilizing the standard practice of target and qualifying ions. Moreover, this article works to inspire educators to use modern GC-MS instrumental analysis techniques, which are typically viewed as a daunting undertaking due to the overabundance of instrumentation parameter settings available, to encourage undergraduate students to qualitatively investigate the effect of a few key parameters on the instrumental analysis of an environmentally relevant topic.

Key Words: Laboratories and Demonstrations; instrumental analysis laboratory; biodiesel; fatty acid methyl esters; gas chromatography; mass spectrometry.

(*) Corresponding author. (E-mail:

Article in PDF format (539 KB) HTML format

Supporting Materials:

Detailed instrumental analysis guidelines for laboratory safety, good laboratory practice notebooks, and formal laboratory report write ups are provided for students and educators as supporting materials (53 KB).

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