Fuels in Chemistry
For Student Groups

Energy from fossil and renewable sources has become an important topic - in many disciplines. In this course, we look at the many processes that precede combustion: the students investigate the processing of mineral oil in experiments and show the purity of their products by gas chromatography. As an example of a fuel derived from renewable raw material, they synthesize biodiesel from rapeseed oil.

Book Fuels in Chemistry

16 to 20 years
1 day
Maximum number of participants


  • Fractional distillation of crude oil
  • Catalytic cracking of long hydrocarbon chains
  • Quality control by gas chromatography, flammability test and bromination
  • Production and purification of biodiesel
  • Quality control by thin layer chromatography and viscosity test

Mineral oil stores a lot of chemical energy, but it is far from being a usable source of energy. In this course, the students will examine which processes have to be applied to make the ingredients of mineral oil useful: they perform a fractional distillation, crack long hydrocarbon chains and show the success of their experiments chromatographically and with appropriate test reactions (bromination, flammability). Furthermore, what about renewable energy sources? For comparison, the students produce biodiesel by transesterification of rapeseed oil and purify it in several steps (separation of the by-products glycerine and soap by phase separation and centrifugation, neutralization and leaching of the alkaline additives, drying of the biodiesel with sodium sulphate). Thereafter, the purity of the product is tested by thin-layer chromatography.