Measurement of Viscosity in Asphalt to Reduce Product Variation in a Refinery

Fine unique asphalt grades are produced by a Brazilian refinery each with a different viscosity that must meet a targeted specification. One of the biggest challenges of the refinery was caused by a variation of the density and viscosity of asphalt during processing.

Raw material and process manufacturing fluctuations mean periodic laboratory testing does not represent the asphalt being produced. While comparing process samples and lab samples, the refinery was experiencing inconsistent results.

This meant they spent a considerable amount of money and time on post-process blending to meet their minimum targets.

Solution

The refinery installed a new VISCOpro 2000 in-line viscometer to automatically measure the kinematic viscosity of the in-process asphalt production, enabling operators to properly control the process. This solution enabled the refinery to achieve continuous sample measurement with no missed data points and spot-on correlation with lab results.

The VISCOpro 2000 makes use of oscillating piston technology, which is known for its high repeatability, accuracy, vibration tolerance and low maintenance requirements, and vibration tolerance. Its small size enables easy installation, and it has a low overall total cost of ownership.

By bringing down product variation, the VISCOpro 2000 enabled the refinery to attain the targeted product specs with minimal post-process blending. The instrument is capable of measuring asphalt at high temperatures up to 707 °F.

Installation can be done at the bypass line or in the mainline if required. This enables real-time viscosity measurement and savings in installation, maintenance, material, processing time, and labor. Figure 1 shows the laboratory and Cambridge inline readings versus viscosity.

Laboratory and Cambridgr inline reading versus viscosity

Figure 1. Laboratory and Cambridgr inline reading versus viscosity

Even without optimized control parameters, the VISCOpro 2000 helped the refinery realize a 90% reduction in product variation.

Results

The results obtained by using the new VISCOpro2000 are:

  • Product variation is reduced by 90%
  • Significant cost savings are achieved by bringing down the amount of diluent needed to achieve targeted specifications
  • Tankage requirements, associated energy, capital and maintenance costs are reduced
  • Increased throughput with less investment in inventory and capital equipment

This information has been sourced, reviewed and adapted from materials provided by PAC L.P.

For more information on this source, please visit PAC L.P.

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