Home Products Search

Biobased Content Testing

Radiocarbon analysis--the technology behind carbon dating--is also used to determine the biobased content of materials. Aeon can perform biobased content testing in accordance with ASTM D6866.

Carbon plays a major role in the composition of many products. Obvious examples like fuels, lubricants, and most plastics consist almost entirely of carbon compounds. But numerous other products, from carpet to laundry detergent to cosmetics, also contain carbon. This carbon may derive from ancient geological sources such as petroleum, coal and natural gas deposits. Such petrochemical or "fossil" carbon developed from organisms that lived millions of years ago. Alternatively, the carbon may come from plant or animal material that was recently living. Such carbon is called "biobased" because it comes from renewable biological resources.

Perhaps surprisingly, biobased content is not the proportion of biobased material in a sample. Rather, it reflects only the biobased proportion of the organic carbon present. Inorganic carbon is not considered, nor are compounds that do not contain carbon. A sample may contain a mere 1% organic carbon, but if all of that carbon is from modern sources, then the sample has 100% biobased content. If half of the organic carbon is biobased and the other half is from fossil resources, then the product is 50% biobased. Only the organic carbon counts.

biobased content = biobased carbon / total organic carbon x 100%

Biobased products may qualify for preferred governmental procurement. A major example of this is the USDA BioPreferred program, which identifies products for which the US government must choose biobased offerings over similar fossil-based alternatives. Generally, these programs require manufacturers to have their products tested for biobased content by a third-party laboratory like Aeon. Be aware, however, that the choice of laboratory may be restricted by additional regulations. For example, the USDA BioPreferred program in particular requires the use of testing laboratories that participate in the SEI Biobased Certification Program. Incidentally, Aeon does not participate in this particular program, so if you are seeking to obtain USDA BioPreferred status, you need to choose a different laboratory for biobased content analysis.

These same analytical techniques are used to determine the renewable carbon content of fuels, including biofuels, and waste/composite fuels, for monitoring combustion exhaust emissions and stack effluents, ensuring compliance with regulations for greenhouse gases, for biogenic or "carbon neutral" CO2 reporting requirements, and for verification and testing in carbon credit, cap-and-trade and carbon offsetting programs. If you have any questions about the procedures or their applicability to your requirements, contact us.

About Us | Contact Us