Where some people see challenges, others see opportunities. Opportunity crudes—sometimes called challenging crudes—can add millions of dollars to a refinery’s bottom line. But they can also create difficult processing issues, which could potentially strip away the profit potential.
Emerson Automation Solutions is working with blend analysis company TopNIR Systems to help refiners maximize the value of opportunity crude and avoid fuel blending losses. The two companies have announced what they say is the industry's first complete blending solution that includes online crude characterization. The technology is also used to improve performance in the product blending area of the refinery.
The Emerson/TopNIR integrated blending solution enables refinery operators to exploit the profitability opportunity of a wider array of crudes by providing hydrocarbon property data in real time to help identify the potential value content in each crude stream.
Faster access to property data allows Emerson’s model predictive control (MPC) to modify and optimize crude stream mixtures while capturing product value during distillation. Asset monitoring applications minimize the impact of opportunity crudes on process units.
“Downstream producers can tap the power of complete solutions for both crude and product blending operations that are designed, sold, installed and serviced by a single supplier,” said Marcelo Carugo, global director of refining and chemical at Emerson.
TopNIR holds over 30 patents associated with near-infrared (NIR) spectroscopy systems, including topological NIR modeling, form of non-parametric modeling. Fast measurements of multiple properties of hydrocarbon streams provides results well within ASTM repeatability and reproducibility standards quicker than other mathematical models. The software also adapts easily to operational changes and allows for a smaller maintenance footprint.
“TopNIR fits perfectly with Emerson’s advanced process control solutions by delivering full online analysis of any hydrocarbon stream in less than one minute, allowing real-time optimization and superior quality control,” said Didier Lambert, CEO of TopNIR.
In addition to improving crude blending performance, the Emerson/TopNIR blending system allows refiners to more easily test and adjust the characteristics of each blend to avoid touchup blends, which can result in millions of dollars in product quality giveaway each year. Refiners will also be able to minimize inventory and tankage costs, and ensure compliance with the latest global clean-fuel emissions regulations taking effect over the coming years.