Level Measurement & Control


Interface measurement in desalters

November 2019 Level Measurement & Control

Interface measurements in desalters are often regarded as non-critical, even though every drop of oil to be refined passes through the desalter. As refineries try to maximise their margins, so-called opportunity crudes are often used. These generally contain increased levels of sulphur, oil sands, bitumen, heavy oils and oils with high TAN. This can lead to problems with the proper operation of the desalter. In addition, refineries are increasingly confronted with stricter environmental regulations. The efficient level control of water/emulsions/oil layers in the desalter ensures that salts and minerals are effectively removed and that environmental requirements are met. Therefore, more and more operators are turning to radiometry as a highly reliable and accurate measurement solution for this application.

If a clearly defined interface is formed, different technologies can be used for interface measurement. If a larger emulsion layer is formed, for example, when using opportunity crudes with a significant density gradient change from oil to water, the measurement with alternative technologies can lead to errors. These cannot determine the height of the emulsion layer and always assume only one separation layer (or interface). This can lead to misinterpretations with the level read as either too high or too low.

EmulsionSENS from Berthold – optimum control of the desalting process

In addition to controlling water and brine levels, the EmulsionSENS interface measuring system from Berthold Technologies allows users to monitor the gradient change in density to ensure that the water content in the area of the electrostatic grids stays within defined limits, preventing short circuits. In addition, the emulsion layer can be kept continuously at the desired level with the help of an EmulsionSENS, which leads to a significant reduction of the ‘emulsion breaker chemicals’.

Thus the probability of upsets is reduced and throughput in the desalter is maximised, which saves energy and money in the long term through highest degrees of accuracy and process stability.


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