Crude oil is incredibly optically dense and yet a real-time analysis of its critical properties could be important in the management and optimisation of the cracking, storage and delivery. In collaboration with the Libyan Petroleum Institute we have been developing some fibre-based techniques for simple, real-time analysis of petroleum products
Aims and Objectives
The project is investigating the use of simple and complex refractive index measurements to profile chemical changes in different types of crude oils and other petroleum products.
Ashpaltines are polyaromatic hydrocarbons in crude oils which when cracked release the small chain molecules that go into the petroleum product fractions such as gasoline, jetA1 and the heavier diesel and bunker oils. The project is looking at real time analysis of asphaltines and the optical characterisation of the products.
Further once stored the petroleum products degraded especially the storage of aviation fuel where water content is important and high levels may lead to engine combustion problems. The project is also investigating storage monitoring procedures and the characterisation of the degradation.
Asphaltine Destabilisation is currently monitored by the change in the asphaltine dispersion stability when crude oil is mixed with heptane: the asphaltine destabilisation test. The test can however be monitored in real time using refractive index and colour to characterise the stabilisation to produce information rapidly on the sweet:sour composition of oils for blending.
Rapid optical dipstick measurements in three colours can provide a rapid simple diagnostic to not only identify a specific fraction but also to discriminate. The differential measurement of refractive index in three colours produces a characterisation like a fingerprint of each product. The evolution of the fingerprint with storage or production process quality control is possible even for optically dense crude oils using the fibre optics sensors being developed in the group.
Contact the Research Group for more details.