Emission and Permeation Characteristics of Biofuels: Potential for Worker Exposure

Research Trainee: Jo-Yu Chin, MS, PhD Student, Dept. of Environmental Health Sciences at the University of Michigan

Faculty Researcher: Stuart Batterman, PhD, Professor of Environmental Health Sciences and Civil & Environmental Engineering at the University of Michigan

Biofuels such as bioethanol and biodiesel have the potential to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and recently have emerged as the leading alternative fuel to replace fossil fuels in the transportation sector. The nature and production of biofuels have several different characteristics from conventional fuels that affect their potential for inhalation and dermal exposure in workplace setting. For example, bioethanol-gasoline mixtures tend to have higher evaporative emissions due to higher vapor pressure and greatly enhanced permeability. The proposed pilot project is aimed at (1) enhancing information regarding the emission profiles of biofuels, (2) understanding the permeability of biofuels through different elastomers and materials used in personal protection equipment (PPE) and biofuel production/distribution equipment, and (3) evaluating respiratory exposures of employees at biorefinery plants. The proposed work will support laboratory studies of volatilization and permeability, field sampling to characterize biofuel vapors in working areas at one or two biorefinery facilities, data analysis and manuscript/proposal preparation. The sampling and analysis procedures will utilize the state-of-the-art methods (active/passive sampling, multibed solid adsorbents, thermal desorption, gas chromatography and mass spectroscopy). Findings of this project will provide information for estimating occupational exposures at the several hundred biofuel production facilities operating or being constructed, most of which are in the Midwest region, and preliminary information for determining the need for emission controls or other interventions. This pilot project is closely related to several NORA priority areas, including emerging technology, indoor environment and exposure assessment (with applications in the manufacturing, transportation and fuel cycle areas), and exposure mixtures.


Publications resulting from this project:
Batterman S, Chen T-C, Chernyak S, Godwin C. Design and performance evaluation of a medium flow sampler for airborne brominated flame retardants (BFRs). J Environ Monit. 2009;11(4):858-866. doi:10.1039/b817298f.

Batterman SA, Chernyak S, Jia C, Godwin C, Charles S. Concentrations and emissions of polybrominated diphenyl ethers from U.S. houses and garages. Environ Sci Technol. 2009;43(8):2693-2700.

Charles SM, Jia C, Batterman SA, Godwin C. VOC and Particulate Emissions from Commercial Cigarettes: Analysis of 2,5-DMF as an ETS Tracer. Environmental Science & Technology. 2008;42(4):1324-1331. doi:10.1021/es072062w.

Chin J-Y, Batterman SA. Permeation of Gasoline, Diesel, Bioethanol (E85), and Biodiesel (B20) Fuels Through Six Glove Materials. Journal of Occupational and Environmental Hygiene. 2010;7(7):417-428. doi:10.1080/15459624.2010.483984.

Jia C, Batterman S, Godwin C, Charles S, Chin J-Y. Sources and migration of volatile organic compounds in mixed-use buildings: Sources and migration of VOCs. Indoor Air. 2010;20(5):357-369. doi:10.1111/j.1600-0668.2010.00643.x. doi: 10.1021/es8029957.