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Fuel laboratories are highly-specialised facilities that test a diverse range of fuels for quality and consistency, including the RDE fuels used in vehicle testing. Testing and analyzing fuels is important for adhering to regulatory standards and to check for any signs of contamination when necessary.
Detailed analysis can be useful when troubleshooting and to quantify pollutants produced by different types of fuels. With new fuels emerging and machinery becoming more sophisticated, it is vital that the quality of fuel is reliably maintained and that any toxic substances generated by use of any fuel are known and eliminated where possible to protect the environment and the health of the general public.
RDE fuels are used for real driving emissions tests to measure pollutants produced by cars in real-life driving conditions that are released into the air in exhaust gases. Analysing RDE fuels is extremely important, as the fuels need to be of good quality and unvarying consistency so that the results obtained when using them can be used in comparisons and for measuring adherence to the new EU regulations.
Exhaust can include dangerous substances - such as nitrogen oxide, also known as NOx emissions - that are toxic and potentially poisonous. Without adequate testing based around fuel that is of a reliable and known quantity, testing results are meaningless. It is important that all varieties of vehicle meet these emission standards for reasons of public health.
Scientists and technicians at fuel testing laboratories can also check fuels to ensure that refinery and pipeline goals are being met. Oil reserves can vary in quality and composition, and the refinery process is a complicated one. Petrochemical by-products testing is often required to establish what is being produced.
These laboratories can also test other kinds of fuels, such as biofuels and natural gas. Testing can determine the quality of these kinds of fuel at every point in the supply chain. Jet fuel and kerosene-related fuels used in areas such as aviation also need to be regularly evaluated to ensure they meet strict standards, as the effects of sub-standard fuels in aircraft could lead to loss of performance mid-air and even accidents.
Testing bunker fuels is an important component of the shipping industry, as ensuring the quality of fuel used in ocean-going cargo vessels means fewer engine problems at sea. Solid fuel testing examines the composition and chemical qualities of substances such as petroleum coke, metallurgical coke and other carbon-related fuels to ensure they meet the appropriate regulatory standards.
Fuel testing and analysis are important to determine the composition and quality of fuels for a number of reasons. Fuels put into expensive car engines must be of the right kind and of sufficiently high standards to produce the performance expected and not cause damage to precision-engineered engines. Air quality and pollution are also generally extremely important, as toxic by-products from inferior or contaminated fuels can cause problems and illness.