The Downstream Sector

The downstream sector involves the refining of petroleum crude oil and the processing of raw natural gas.

Refinery Applications - Elemental Analysis

Elemental analysis is a crucial process control tool for the refining process: XRF is employed as a technique to quantify Sulfur from the crude oil to the liquid streams and in the refined products as well as to quantify Ni, Fe and V in crude oils: Since XRF can analyze the sample directly without digestion or dilution it is the technique is widely employed as process tool: Sulfur levels in fuels are regulated, compliance analysis can be performed with XRF by applying ASTM, ISO or other national norms such as ASTM D2622, ISO XXX. Residual fuel oils as well as solid petcoke can be analyzed as well directly.

For the lowest detection limits as well as for testing P, Pb , S,Ni,V and many more elements in a laboratory setting the S8 TIGER Series 2 WDXRF units are used by many refineries.

Smaller refineries and for regions where regulatory compliance for Sulfur and Ultra-Low Sulfur can be done with EDXRF (e.g. ISO 13032, ASTM D7220 and D4294) BRUKER offers the S2 POLAR with PETRO-QUANT.

Refinery Applications - Positive Material Identification

Elemental analysis also plays an important role in the maintenance of refineries and pipelines: Positive Material Identification (PMI) is crucial for the safe operation. The correct identification of alloys for repairs can be performed by HH-XRF, which can identify and grade alloys except for C containing alloys. The correct identification of C containing alloys requires the use of arc sparc spectrometry, which can detect C and N in metals as well.

For the onsite portable testing of alloys and metals the S1 TITAN is the instrument of choice followed by the lab based arc spark spectrometers Q2 ION and Q4.

Rapid Fuel Analysis using FT-NIR Spectroscopy

Gasoline, Diesel and Jet fuels require extensive testing in the laboratory for process optimization, blend optimization and efficiency and to reduce the instance of octane giveaway. Previously, this required many independent tests including simulated distillation, GC and Knock Engine Testing. New advances in Fourier Transform Near Infrared spectroscopy now mean that multiple chemical & physical properties can be derived from one sample/one spectrum in seconds. Properties include:

  • RVP, T5, T10, T50, T90, T95, IBP, FBP
  • Benzene, Aromatics, Olefins, Saturates

Bruker has developed a unique solution for the refinery fuels laboratories which includes calibrations developed using many thousands of fuel samples.

TD-NMR Additions

Real-time process monitoring using automated bench-top TD-NMR

Crude Oil Analyses

  • Viscosity
  • Droplet size distribution (oil-in-water, water-in-oil)
  • Hydrogen content

Distillation Monitoring

  • % Hydrogen in seconds (ASTM techniques)
  • Automated hydro-cracking process control

Oil Sand Separation

  • Real-time monitoring of bitumen, water, solvents in separation samples 
  • Sample size: few mg to 1000g
  • No sample preparation necessary
  • Color, opacity does not affect measurement
  • Simple and short calibration procedure