Only few information on the potential toxic effectiveness of biofuels are available. Due to increasing worldwide demand for energy and fuels during the past decades, biofuels are considered as a promising alternative for fossil fuels in the transport sector. Hence, more information on their hazard potentials are required to understand the toxicological impact of biofuels on the environment. In the German Cluster of Excellence “Tailor-made Fuels from Biomass” design processes for economical, sustainable and environmentally friendly biofuels are investigated. In an unique and interdisciplinary approach, ecotoxicological methods are applied to gain information on potential adverse environmental effects of biofuels at an early phase of their development. In the present study, three potential biofuels, ethyl levulinate, 2-methyltetrahydrofuran and 2-methylfuran were tested. Furthermore, we investigated a fossil gasoline fuel, a fossil diesel fuel and an established biodiesel. Two in vitro bioassays, one for assessing cytotoxicity and one for aryl hydrocarbon receptor agonism, so called dioxin-like activity, as measured by Ethoxyresorufin-O-Deethylase, were applied using the permanent fish liver cell line RTL-W1 (Oncorhynchus mykiss). The special properties of these fuel samples required modifications of the test design. Points that had to be addressed were high substance volatility, material compatibility and low solubility. For testing of gasoline, diesel and biodiesel, water accommodated fractions and a passive dosing approach were tested to address the high hydrophobicity and low solubility of these complex mixtures. Further work has to focus on an improvement of the chemical analyses of the fuel samples to allow a better comparison of any effects of fossil fuels and biofuels.
- Fossil fuels