The practice of cost containment in the petroleum industry is an ongoing cycle. The balance between the declining quality of incoming crude oil and the heavily regulated quality of outgoing product makes refining a very cost-conscious operation. The refiner has to have excellent control over the process in order to maximize margin dollars on each barrel of crude processed. Sulfur is removed through a process called hydro-desulfurization treatment, which adds considerable cost to the refining process. Thus the sulfur content of crude oil determines its price. Sweet crude oil (low sulfur content) can cost as much as one and a half times the price of sour crude oil (high sulfur content) because it is more expensive to refine and is therefore in high demand.
One of the major considerations in the cost control process is how much treatment each barrel of crude oil will need to remove the naturally occurring sulfur to operational levels that will make a product that meets federally mandated standards for sulfur content. Part of the required testing consideration to keep products in specification with the mandated sulfur levels is the overall cost of ownership of testing and measurement equipment for refiners, pipeline operators and product distributors. This cost includes capital expenditure, operating costs and life expectancy.
In designing and manufacturing the new Micro-Z sulfur, Rigaku has built a bottom-up solution to this regulated testing requirement, creating an instrument that meets the needs of the industry for cost-effective performance, ease of maintenance and use, and robustness.
The Micro-Z Sulfur from Rigaku
The Micro-Z sulfur is designed to first and foremost meet performance requirements of the industry, so this benchtop wavelength dispersive XRF (WDXRF) analyzer has the capability of measuring both the sulfur peak and associated background for every analysis as specified in ASTM 2622-08. The instrument has been designed to take advantage of industry-leading optics, using curved crystals to improve X-ray intensity captured by the sealed proportional detector, allowing unparalleled sensitivity and meeting industry mandated detection limits. The close-coupled geometry of the excitation source and sample allows for the use of low-powered X-ray tubes. This excitation system, while still producing high intensity X-ray fluorescence from samples containing sulfur in low concentration levels, has no need for external cooling chillers.
The Micro-Z sulfur is self-contained and requires only external power connection for operation. The reduction of all of the normal peripherals associated with higher-powered WDXRF instruments, such as external P-10 and helium gases and water chillers, makes the Micro-Z sulfur a low maintenance analyzer with a small footprint, and also reduces the cost of ownership of the analyzer to the refiner, pipeline operator or petroleum distributor. The significant cost reduction comes without sacrificing performance, making the Micro-Z sulfur a very attractive addition to any process control or quality assurance program.
Capabilities of The Micro-Z Sulfur from Rigaku
The instrument is capable of measuring sulfur content in a diverse range of petroleum products, from ultra-low sulfur diesel, with sulfur currently mandated to be less than 15 ppm, to crude oil where sulfur can range up to 5%. Its fixed channel geometry is associated with very precise analysis, so the instrument shows good repeatability for sulfur analysis in a variety of matrices across a wide concentration range of sulfur. In order to offer a turnkey solution, the Micro-Z sulfur is calibrated using the Rigaku Petro-Pak product to deliver ASTM 2622-08 compliant data in all of the products currently produced in the modern refinery and covered in the scope of applicability of the ASTM standard.
This information has been sourced, reviewed and adapted from materials provided by Rigaku.
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