Online Analyzers in Refinery In-line Blending Operations

by | Jul 16, 2015 | Downstream Hydrocarbons, Industry


  • Jim Cahill
    Chief Blogger, Social Marketing Leader

For refineries, inline blending of gasoline, distillates, jet fuel and kerosene can improve overall performance by:

…reducing the blend time, the need for excessive storage capacities and mix tanks, maintenance manpower and costly quality giveaway.

Online-Analyzer-WebinarIn the final webinar in the Refining Blending Webinar Series, Using online analyzers to blend right the first time, Emerson’s Patrick Truesdale and Topnir Systems‘ Didier Lambert discussed how online analyzers help to improve quality control, reduce expensive tank storage, and achieve in-line blend certification to reduce inventories. These online analyzers help refiners quickly test the quality of blends and change the component ratio to avoid quality giveaway and cost overrun.

Patrick opened and discussed some of the technology advancements that have been made in measurement technologies. Gasoline blending requires many types of analytical measurements including gas chromatographs for chemical composition, density, Reid vapor pressure (RVP), etc.

Near infrared (NIR) analyzers came to the marketplace beginning in the 1980s. Patrick noted that the first NIR on-line application for gasoline blending operations came online in 1989. Given the complexity of these analyzers, many groups have been involved in their maintenance including the lab, control, and maintenance teams.

Technology has advanced from single property analyzers to multi-properly ones. Today, they can measure 10 to 20 properties simultaneously. This simplifies maintenance and provides a common sampling system. To accomplish these measurements, NIR devices depend upon prediction models and inferential calculations.

For gasoline blending, NIRs can measure octane numbers, volatility (RVP, vapor-to-liquid ratio), aromatics, olefins, oxygen, benzene, and ethanol, MTBE, ETBE, etc. Sulfur content is one of the key properties that can’t be measured given the low-level parts-per-million standards required for regulatory compliance such as the U.S Environmental Protection Agency’s Tier 3 regulations. A separate sulfur analyzer is required.

Didier then shared some of the basic principles in NIR Spectroscopy operation. You can find a good summary of NIR spectrometry on the Topnir website and this Hydrocarbon Engineering article.

Watched the recorded webinar for more on comparisons of NIR pattern recognition technology versus traditional partial least squares (PLS) approaches and how ongoing maintenance is simplified. Patrick also shares insights on inline blending and associated regulatory requirements.

Starting at 47:00, webinar participants asked Patrick and Didier a number of great questions. Make sure to catch this Q & A section of the webinar.

You can also ask questions you have and connect and interact with other refining experts in the Refining group in the Emerson Exchange 365 community.

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The opinions expressed here are the personal opinions of the authors. Content published here is not read or approved by Emerson before it is posted and does not necessarily represent the views and opinions of Emerson.

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