In a Canadian oil sand surface mine, recovered oil is refined directly on site. One of the many processing steps involved is the thermal treatment of bitumen. In this operation, the bitumen flow needs to be measured at temperatures between 700 °F and 750 °F. Thus, the coker feed requires accurate monitoring and regulation of product input which can only be accomplished by reliable flow measurement.
Moreover, some flow meters are also used for the detection of line clogging. Clogged lines can easily cause a shutdown of the entire facility, leading to enormous downtime costs. In the past, such measurements were done with differential pressure methods or vortex shedding meters. Like all inline measuring instruments, these were subject to wear and tear and demanded daily maintenance.
Non-intrusive flow measurement proved to be a significantly better solution. A test measurement, using the WaveInjector mounting fixture for extreme pipe wall temperatures together with a portable flow meter on a 6" pipe carrying hot VAC tower residue, demonstrated the superiority of the ultrasonic technology.
Fortunately for the customer, this test measurement revealed a control valve failure. The refinery now uses the flow values delivered by the WaveInjector and a permanent FLUXUS flow meter for a reliable mass flow balancing in the upgrader process.