Rapid and accurate biofuel moisture content gauging using magnetic resonance measurement technology

Timo Järvinen

Research output: Book/ReportReport


Biomass is extensively utilised in energy production and as a raw material, such as for the production of liquid biofuels. All those processes will benefit if the moisture content of bio material is known in advance as accurately as possible under transient circumstances. Biofuel trade is increasingly based on the calorific value of fuels. In the first step, this also increases the need for rapid and accurate moisture content determination. During the last few years, large biofuel standardisation has been implemented, emphasising biofuel quality control at all stages of the utilisation chain. In principle, the moisture instrumental measurement can be utilised by many technologies and procedures. Typical techniques are infrared, radiofrequency, micro-wave, radiometric, electrical conductivity, capacitance, and impedance. Nuclear magnetic resonance (MR) and thermal neutron absorption are also applied. The MR measurement principle has been known and utilised already since the early 1950s. It has become the basic instrumental analysis tool in chemistry. It is also well-known as a very accurate method for analysing most compounds, especially substances containing hydrogen. The utilisation of MR metering is expanded extensively to medical diagnostics as a form of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). Because of the precision of the MR principle, there have for a long time been efforts to apply it in new and different areas, and to make more user-friendly, smaller, and even portable devices. Such a device was designed by Vaisala a few years ago. VTT has utilised Vaisala`s MR prototype for approximately one year for moisture content measurement of different biofuels. The first step in the use of an MR device for moisture determination was the definition of its measurement accuracy compared to the standard method (EN 14774). Those tests proved that the absolute precision seems to be comparable to the standard moisture content measurement method. It was also found out that the MR gauge was the most precise device utilised in the same way, when compared to other alternatives. The gauge was also reliable and easily calibrated. The biggest challenge in using the MR prototype gauge was caused by the volume of sample pots. The average mass of biofuel samples reached about half of the mass presupposed by standard EN 14774 for oven drying. Therefore, at VTT, two separate parallel samples were applied for MR gauging, and the average result was utilised in comparisons and calculations. Already, Vaisala tested the prototype, applying approximately a sample pot twice as big as that used in the prototype, and Metso Automation has recently realised this improvement
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationEspoo
PublisherVTT Technical Research Centre of Finland
Number of pages74
ISBN (Electronic)978-951-38-7975-4
ISBN (Print)978-951-38-7974-7
Publication statusPublished - 2013
MoE publication typeNot Eligible

Publication series

SeriesVTT Technology


  • moisture gauging
  • MR moisture device
  • biofuel moisture instrumental measurement


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