Today, rising economic pressure is forcing major refineries to steadily increase the throughput of their facilities. Reliable flow measurement is crucial to the optimization of production processes.
Refined bitumen, which is produced by means of vacuum distillation at temperatures around 370 °C, poses a special challenge to flow measurement technology because of its high temperature and high viscosity. Intrusive flow meters face problems inherent to their technologies: Clogging of impulse lines, deposit formation, and more.
This became especially prominent in a refinery at the west coast of the USA, where the bitumen is blended with a pentane based solvent to decrease viscosity and to increase the mobility of the product.
If the flow of the product, which is intended as a light fuel oil for ships, drops to zero or the temperature falls below 180°C, it may become immobile and the lines can plug. The cost to recover from blockage is approximately one to two million dollars.
FLEXIM's answer to these problems is the non-intrusive WaveInjector bitumen flow meters - ideally suited for high temperatures up to 400°C and beyond, making them perfect for applications including bitumen flow measurement at an oil sand facility. These high-viscosity flow meters have no movable parts which could be subject to wear and tear and there are no limitations to the medium's pressure. Further, accurate, drift-free measurement is possible with these asphalt flow meters, even with large nominal pipe sizes. The robust measuring system of these flow meters for high-viscosity fluids is not harmed either by hot steam purging or by short term overheating.