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Gasoline Blending Optimization using Spectroscopic Analyzing Techniques

Gaoline blending in Oil Refinery

The use of spectroscopic analyzing techniques in refinery process control, especially gasoline blending, is a fairly common practice in the industry. The technology to use Near-Infra Red (NIR), RAMAN, or Fourier-Transform Near-Infra Red (FTNIR or FTIR) to fine-tune component ratio, ensure meeting specification and minimize quality giveaway has been around for decades, but is this technology beneficial, and are refineries using it accurately?

Compared to traditional measurement techniques, spectroscopic analyzers such as NIR/RAMAN have several advantages in gasoline blending:

  1. High data density: typically 1 data point every 120 – 150 seconds, versus 1 data point every 360 – 1200 seconds of other technologies
  2. Ability to analyze multiple qualities simultaneously: 10 or more qualities can be monitored at the same time
  3. Ability to analyze multiple streams together: with the right setup, the same analyzer can monitor process streams and production streams together
  4. Easy to maintain: mostly filter changes and condition control, with lamp changes once every 6-12 months

With these features available, we have seen an increase in the number of refining operators investing in spectroscopic technology in the recent years, with over 90% of our clients in the past two years using one or more of these instruments to improve their process control.

Is it working well?

Unfortunately, for most refining operators, the answer is NO.

While the technology looks very attractive, we have often noticed that a refinery’s investment in NIR/RAMAN lacks the complexity and understanding required to fully exploit the potential of these instruments. Spectroscopic measurement techniques utilize chemical principles and advanced statistics, while traditional analyzers rely more on physical principles. As a consequence, these upgraded projects frequently fail to maximize their financial return. In some extreme cases, due to a lack of experience working with spectroscopic analyzers in gasoline blending, the process control capabilities often regress, leading to higher quality giveaway costs for the refinery.

How can Trindent help?

In the past few years, Trindent has successfully implemented multiple solutions to improve the accuracy and reliability of NIR/RAMAN technology for our clients, especially in the area of gasoline blending optimization. To establish a top-tier NIR/RAMAN management system, followed by a strong gasoline blending program, a refinery should:

  1. Create a clear responsibility matrix outlining the ownership of accuracy of the analyzers
  2. Develop a comprehensive management system to oversee the analyzer performance
  3. Install a clear root-cause analysis framework to identify improvement opportunities
  4. Improve training and hence the knowledge of the responsible team

A successful NIR/RAMAN program requires the investment of technology, knowledge development, and active management but the last two pieces are often missing. With these missing links installed, our clients were able to achieve measurement accuracy as good as the primary testing method (PTM) and accomplish top quartile giveaway control comparable to some analyzer programs that comprise of PTM exclusively.

Click here to learn more about how we can help your organization use the right spectroscopic analyzing techniques develop a world class gasoline blending optimization program.  

The author of this article Kai Y. Wan is an Engagement Manager at Trindent Consulting. Kai holds a Ph.D. in Chemistry (Hydrocarbon Catalysis) and a BSc in Analytical Chemistry from the University of Toronto. Kai’s passion for chemistry coupled with his management consulting expertise has helped him deliver over $100,000,000 in financial improvements for some of the world’s leading Oil & Gas companies.