Biodiesel Products in Fire Debris

A new ASTM test method will help extract and identify biodiesel products in fire debris. The standard (soon to be published as E2997, Test Method for the Analysis of Biodiesel Products by Gas Chromatography-Mass Spectrometry) will help forensic labs analyze samples to determine the presence of ignitable liquids and to help with potential cases of fuel tampering or contamination.

Specifically, according to ASTM member Ronald Kelly, "this new standard could provide an alternative way to characterize the fatty acid methyl ester compounds that are added to the petroleum distillate fraction of diesel fuels." Kelly, a recently retired supervisory forensic chemist from the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation, notes that the test method could help determine the types of oils in biodiesel products and to compare the composition of two or more fuel samples.

The primary users of the test method will be forensic scientists in labs that conduct fire debris analysis or fuel tampering and contamination cases.

When the standard is published, the ASTM commitee on forensic sciences (E30) will welcome public and private labs to participate in an interlaboratory study that will further refine the test method and produce additional data on this technique.

CONTACT Technical Information: Ronald Kelly, forensic consultant • Woodbridge, Va. • tel +1.703.232.6785 | ASTM Staff: Christine DeJong • tel +1.610.832.9736 | Upcoming Meeting: Februrary 11-12, 2017 • E30 2017 meeting • New Orleans, La.

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