Optimizing Refinery Blending Operations

For-Good-MeasureOptimized process control begins with accurate and reliable measurements. A Process Engineering article, For good measure (pp 39-40) highlights new measurement technologies which can be used in critical plant processes. The applications described range from clean-in-place operations in pharmaceutical and biopharmaceutical processes to refinery blending operations.

Emerson's Marcelo Carugo


Emerson’s Marcelo Carugo describes how most manual processes in refineries have been automated, including blending operations. What was done with manual sampling sent to the lab is now done continuously. Marcelo noted:

…measurement uncertainty as small as 0.1% with blender controls, including flow meters providing blend information, can decrease profitability and the ability to meet tighter environmental specs.

He described how technology coupled with expertise helps to optimize blending operations:

We can work with them on their blending requirements and help them to identify issues with their analysers.

The blending process was automated historically to reduce octane giveaways. Marcelo explained that the reason behind the need for more optimized blending has shifted to regulatory compliance in many countries.

He shared how applications such as SmartProcess Blend Control & Optimization:

…support companies seeking regulatory control of their automated blend process for gasoline, diesel, and other petroleum-based products.

This pre-engineered application Emerson includes templates that are customized to fit the unique requirements of a particular project. It includes optional modules and features such as blend order management, analyzer trim control, recipe management, tank inventories and quality tracking. Whether for a new blend control system or the revamp of an existing system, services accompanying the page can range from up front design through construction and installation of fully-instrumented, skid-mounted, in-line blenders, analyzer houses and sample systems.

You can connect and interact with other refining experts in the Refining group in the Emerson Exchange 365 community.

2 comments

  1. Nice summary. I would especially agree that any blender control upgrade needs to consider the field instrumentation and control valves. A fancy blend optimization system will not generate benefits if the basic flow measurements are incorrect or valves leak. Coriolis technology for components flow meters has proven its value in accuracy, turndown, and reduced maintenance. That said, refiners typically have a huge opportunity to utilize closed-loop blend quality control and optimization to maximize the refinery margin.

  2. Jim Cahill says:

    Thanks for the insight on the importance of measurement and final control in effective optimization efforts, Pete!

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