ASTM Approval

Some people ask whether Standard ASTM D3241 heater tubes are "Approved". In fact, there are no "ASTM Approved" or "ASTM Certified" heater tubes or jet fuel thermal oxidation testers.  ASTM D3241 is the test method for Thermal Oxidation of Jet Fuel and provides detailed information on how to perform the test.

Various footnotes in ASTM D3241 list manufacturers of test instruments and heater tubes.  In every case, the footnote states, "This is not an endorsement or certification by ASTM International." (emphasis added)

If someone tells you that their heater tube is "approved", ask to see the ASTM approval certificate. If they tell you that their product is listed in the method, ask if they are endorsed or certified by ASTM. They are not, because ASTM does not endorse, approve or certify products.

This is true of all ASTM test methods - no one talks about having an "Approved" supplier for ASTM D130 copper strips, or "Approved" D93 flash point testers. The non-existent "ASTM approval" marketing technique was invented to stop competition and raise prices.

So, how does a company get its heater tube mentioned in Note 5 of the ASTM D3241 test method?

ASTM is a collaborative organization with members from all over the world.  Members work in committees to write standards so that laboratories and people who rely on lab data can have more confidence in the data they generate and use. ASTM (like other standards organizations) is a critically important part of scientific advancement and international trade.

The members of subcommittees and committees vote in order to make changes or updates to test methods.  People with an interest in a particular topic participate in ASTM in an individual capacity - theoretically, they don't officially represent any company. Because ASTM is a "collegial" organization, changes require near-unanimous votes to be approved - a few members of a large committee can refuse to vote affirmative on a ballot and the method will not be updated.

This is where things get political. An ASTM member who is part of a committee obviously has an incentive to vote in the interests of the company that paid them to be at the meeting. Large companies organize friends and associates so that they control voting blocs on committees. These blocs then have the power to stop any new companies from being listed in a test method.

ASTM D3241 does note in a footnote that "equivalent" heater tubes should be used, and that equivalence can be determined by following Research Report RR:D02-1550. However, this research report is not publicly available on the ASTM website, so there is no way to establish equivalency if the methodology for doing so is not public. Interestingly, there is no such "equivalence" requirement for any other test on the ASTM D1655 specification for jet fuel - only for the one test that requires a high-cost single-use consumable part.

There are a handful of large companies who have a vested interest in limited competition.  They enjoy very high profit margins from their monopoly and would like to keep prices high.  Of course, that hurts you, the potential buyer of an alternative product.

Standard Heater Tube sells heater tubes that meet all of the requirements listed in ASTM D3241 for approximately half the price of the major competitors.  Our tubes are excellent quality and we have customers all over the world who have been testing and certifying jet fuel using Standard ASTM D3241 Heater Tubes for 20 years. Standard Heater Tube has worked with customers and presented multiple round-robin test reports at ASTM showing heater tube equivalency.

The choice is yours - you can pay nearly twice the price to buy a heater tube that is NOT "endorsed or certified by ASTM", even though it is listed in a footnote in the test method, or you can buy the best ASTM D3241 heater tube in the world for half the price.