Visit the official COVID-19 government website to stay informed: sacoronavirus.co.za

Optimised refinery operations with Hy-Optima

The basic process of refining crude oil – fractional distillation – into useable product is reasonably simple. Crude oil contains various hydrocarbon compounds all of which condense at varying temperatures. The crude oil is heated in a column and the condensates are drawn off at different levels to produce – amongst others – raw petroleum, diesel and jet fuel products.

However, it is after these fuels in their basic or ‘raw’ form have been produced, that the complexity and challenge arises. Each of these fuels or fractions has to be further refined before it becomes saleable petrochemical product. These subsequent processes are dependent on having specific levels of hydrogen in the process stream, the levels of which need to be accurately monitored.

‘In an oil refinery, they are up to 23 points where the level of hydrogen needs to be very accurately monitored,’ explains Ian Fraser, MD of RTS Africa Engineering, a Tshwane-based company specialising in innovative technologies, which provide solutions to industrial challenges. Among other things, the company has been involved in supplying hydrogen production and analysis equipment for many years.

‘Process engineers need to know the exact percentages of hydrogen at these points, in order to monitor the exact performance of the process and to also continuously optimise these processes,’ Fraser adds.

To carry out this monitoring, many oil refinery process engineers use the Hy-Optima 2700 gas analyser from RTS Africa’s US principal H2Scan.

In the sensor of this device, a thin-film palladium/ nickel-based lattice desorbs hydrogen as it encounters the sensor. As hydrogen is absorbed into the metal lattice, the bulk resistivity of the lattice changes, allowing for accurate measurement of hydrogen levels in particular process streams.

The Hy-Optima’s solid-state, non-consumable sensor provides real-time continuous hydrogen concentration data. ‘This sensor is not affected by the presence other gases such as carbon monoxide, methane and hydrogen sulphide,’ explains Fraser.

The sensors are protected against corrosive gases by H2Scan’s proprietary coating, which gives the Hy-Optima 2700 an operational lifetime of at least 10 years.

A further advantage of the Hy-Optima 2700 is that the instrument is housed in an explosion-proof casing, which meets stringent international ‘Zone 2’ safety standards. This instrument will report through electronic connections to an existing SCADA-type control system.

‘Traditional monitoring methods rely on sampling and the use of gas chromatographs, thermal conductivity meters and density analysers. These monitoring methods are both costly to install and maintain. The time from sample extraction to results can be quite long, which robs process engineers of the opportunity to monitor in real-time,’ Fraser remarks.

He points out that accurate hydrogen monitoring by the Hy-Optima 2700 will however ensure that refineries not only produce consistent high-quality products, but also protect their complex and costly plant against damage.

‘For example, very expensive catalysts are used to break down the long chain molecules in the heavier fractions. If the levels of hydrogen in the process stream are too high, there is too much energy present, which can damage catalysts. If there is insufficient hydrogen, the process slows down, potentially costing the refinery a significant amount in downtime. In addition, accurate hydrogen monitoring can also significantly extend catalyst life resulting in substantial operational savings,’ he says.

The Hy-Optima 2700 can be used to monitor a number of other post-fractional distillation refinery processes such as reforming, cracking, recycle, tail gas, fuel gas, flare gas and other multi-component process streams. The Hy-Optima range of instruments can also be used in other sectors, such as in the supply of natural and industrial gas.

There is, in addition, extensive application in the petrochemical industry to monitor polymer feeds and flare gas process streams, or in the manufacturing sector, in metals annealing, semiconductor, oil hydrogenation and fertiliser manufacturing process streams.

With real-time hydrogen monitoring, process engineers have an overview of exactly what is taking place in any complex refinery process stream. This means early detection of any problems and, ultimately, the refinery is able to produce better products more economically. Improved energy efficiencies result in reduced maintenance and downtime costs.

‘Oil refining is a high stakes business. If a refinery finds it is experiencing challenges either with low production or poor product quality, it needs to look at the accurate control of hydrogen in the various process streams,’ continues Fraser.

‘Here the Hy-Optima 2700 hydrogen analyser offers an unmatched, real-time overview of hydrogen levels in process streams – allowing process engineers to enjoy continuous, accurate control of their refinery’s performance,’ he concludes.



Latest


04 Aug 2020
SKF’s manufacturing operations to be carbon neutral by 2030

SKF has announced its aim to achieve a fully carbon neutral manufacturing footprint by 2030. Since 2015, SKF has decreased…

SKF’s manufacturing operations to be carbon neutral by 2030

SKF has announced its aim to achieve a fully carbon neutral manufacturing footprint by 2030. Since 2015, SKF has decreased its manufacturing carbon footprint by 36% and is already operating two carbon neutral factories. SKF Scope 1 and 2 The 2030 target will cover SKF’s own manufacturing operations, i.e. SKF’s…

22 Jul 2020
South Africans work the hardest yet are the least happy

BY: Lucy Desai content writer at QuickBooks South Africa Did you know recent data shows that South Africans work the…

South Africans work the hardest yet are the least happy

BY: Lucy Desai content writer at QuickBooks South Africa Did you know recent data shows that South Africans work the longest hours yet are the least happy? Many of us have stayed later at work to meet a tight deadline or finish a large project — but would we work…

21 Jul 2020
Mine lab services continue throughout lockdown

Despite the COVID-19 disruptions to the mining sector, FLSmidth’s laboratory services to the industry have continued virtually unaffected. In fact,…

Mine lab services continue throughout lockdown

Despite the COVID-19 disruptions to the mining sector, FLSmidth’s laboratory services to the industry have continued virtually unaffected. In fact, with the restrictions on movement and distancing to reduce transmission of the virus, the company has seen new demand for its automated laboratory offerings. According to Martin Matthysen, director, SPA…

20 Jul 2020
Africa could reimagine its cities because of the pandemic

The need for social distancing and better sanitation could leapfrog African city development into a more sustainable future. This is…

Africa could reimagine its cities because of the pandemic

The need for social distancing and better sanitation could leapfrog African city development into a more sustainable future. This is according to Duncan Bonnett, director Market Access & Research at Africa House, and research partner of exhibition organiser Messe Muenchen South Africa, who says that while Africa’s architects and planners…


Top stories


29 May 2020
Electra Mining Africa 2020 cancelled due to pandemic

Electra Mining Africa 2020, due to take place from 7 to 11 September at the Expo Centre in Johannesburg, has…

Electra Mining Africa 2020 cancelled due to pandemic

Electra Mining Africa 2020, due to take place from 7 to 11 September at the Expo Centre in Johannesburg, has been cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The next edition of the show will be held from 5 to 9 September 2022 at the same venue. Continued prohibition of large…

01 May 2020
JF Equipment launches innovative mobile unit for sanitisation in public places

In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic JF Equipment has launched the revolutionary and durable Sani-Tunn, a mobile unit that…

JF Equipment launches innovative mobile unit for sanitisation in public places

In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic JF Equipment has launched the revolutionary and durable Sani-Tunn, a mobile unit that can sanitise an individual as well as whatever they may be carrying. As the world adjusts to the new social norm, it’s encouraging to see how innovative our resilient nation…

08 Apr 2020
Uncovering the face of cyber crime: How a hacker scammed over $100 000

Researchers from cyber crime solutions company, Check Point, have painstakingly uncovered the identity of a prolific cyber criminal known as…

Uncovering the face of cyber crime: How a hacker scammed over $100 000

Researchers from cyber crime solutions company, Check Point, have painstakingly uncovered the identity of a prolific cyber criminal known as ‘Dton’. When you spot a phishing attempt or an email with a suspicious document attached in your inbox, have you ever wondered who actually sent it to you, and how…

18 Mar 2020
Coronavirus-triggered recession will change how we do business but could speed up Industry 4.0

The recovery from a coronavirus-triggered recession will usher in a new era in which the way we live, do business…

Coronavirus-triggered recession will change how we do business but could speed up Industry 4.0

The recovery from a coronavirus-triggered recession will usher in a new era in which the way we live, do business and invest will fundamentally change. This according to Nigel Green CEO and founder of the deVere Group, one of the world’s largest independent financial advisory organisations. These comments come as…