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Dec-2019

Increasing operational efficiency and productivity with the VUV Analyzer platform for fuels

Refinery laboratories have traditionally invested in analytical technologies that help them both characterise and certify the fuels they produce.

Alex Hodgson
VUV Analytics
Article Summary
In fact, understanding the composition of the fuels being produced has a significant impact (positive and negative) on the prices that can be charged and the profit that will be made. Given the importance of fuel analysis you would expect significant ongoing investment in technologies (capex), and corresponding increases in operational expenditures (opex) to support those capital investments. However, refinery laboratory managers routinely report that as expectations increase, they are being asked to reduce operating expenses. So how then, can the modern refinery laboratory do more, with less? Is there a way that laboratories can increase productivity and efficiency, reduce operator complexity, and improve the quality of data all while simultaneously decreasing operational costs?

The answer is yes. To better understand how let’s consider the following example for finished gasoline. Laboratories that characterise gasoline today will do so using FIA (ASTM D1319) to measure olefins, GC-TCD (ASTM D3606) to measure benzene, GC-OFID (ASTM D5599) to measure oxygenates, and GC-MS (ASTM D5769) for total aromatics. From a capital perspective this requires investment in multiple analytical technologies including an FIA apparatus, multiple GCs, along with TCD, OFID, and mass spectrometry detectors. From an operational perspective each of these systems has  significant consumable requirements including: glass columns, silica gel and fluorescent dye for FIA, platinum reactors for GC-OFID, and deuterated standards for GC-MS. From a productivity standpoint, different operators are often required for each technique based on complexity. Some techniques like FIA require dedicated hands-on resources to perform the required analysis while others, like GS-MS often require different resources all together.

There is a better way. With the recent publication of ASTM D8071 all four of the methods and analytical techniques mentioned above can be replaced by one, easy-to-operate, automated platform – The VUV Analyzer Platform for Fuels (See Figure 1), dramatically reducing capital costs, consumable requirements and costs, and operator complexity. And, because this is a platform, other methods like ASTM D8267 can be run on the same platform with no changes in hardware or setup. The end result is the ability to dramatically improve laboratory efficiency, increase throughput, and allow for better utilisation of laboratory personnel.

Still not convinced? Consider this, The Total Cost of Analysis (TCoA) of ASTM D8071 (See Figure 2) running on the VUV Analyzer Platform is 20x to 30x less expensive per sample in labour and consumables to operate than ASTM D1319, D5769, D5599, and D3606 combined. The TCoA of ASTM D8267 (Jet Fuel) 10x to 20x less (See Figure 3) per sample in labour and consumables compared to ASTM D1319 and ASTM 6379 (HPLC).
In an environment of operating expense pressure, it is possible to increase productivity while simultaneously reducing operating expenses by deploying the VUV Analyzer Platform for Fuels.
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