Bitumen Flow Metering in Petroleum Refineries

BitumenBitumen is one of the heaviest and most viscous products produced in refineries. It is created from “vacuum bottoms,” the asphalt-like residue extracted from the bottom of vacuum distillation columns.

Bitumen is a long chain hydrocarbon molecule and appears to be solid at ambient temperatures. However, bitumen is really a highly viscous liquid and does “flow,” though only very slowly. Heating bitumen causes it to soften and eventually become a runny liquid at high temperature. This property of bitumen, near solid at ambient temperature, but liquid at higher temperature, together with its adhesive and waterproofing qualities, is the reason why bitumen is so useful in construction. Most bituminous coated materials are workable when mixed and applied hot, but on cooling become solid. While bitumen is best known for its extensive use as a binding agent in road asphalt, it is also used in the roofing and carpet industries, as well as for making sheets of corrugated papier-mâché water repellant. Many of its uses require unique hardness properties, so there are many different grades of bitumen produced. Different grades are made at refineries by blowing oxygen through bitumen to make it harder when cold.

Bitumen in RefineryThe measurement of bitumen flow is notoriously difficult because of high process temperatures and viscosity conditions. Conventional meters are challenged with this measurement and failure is a common problem. Rheonik ET and HT mass flow meters are ideally suited for the task:

  • High temperature ratings to 350°C/662°F
  • No moving parts to wear
  • Built-in trace heating jacket options
  • High intrinsic accuracy and measurement stability, even at larger sizes

Rheonik Coriolis Meter in Petroleum PlantSteam purging for cleaning purposes will not damage meter internals, nor will over-temperature conditions. Wildly changing fluid properties caused by small variances in temperature are automatically compensated for. The use of Rheonik Coriolis mass flow meters significantly increases measurement reliability while dramatically reducing the maintenance costs often associated with other meter technologies, such as differential pressure devices and mechanical meters. Product quality and consistency are consequently improved, leading to less waste and rework, and greater plant productivity.

Rheonik meters can be used throughout bitumen process operations for a wide variety of applications:

  • General process metering
  • Batching
  • Blending
  • Coating
  • Packaging
  • Truck and railcar loading.

All Rheonik meters are suitable for hazardous area installation and operation and are simple to implement and use.

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