Portable Analytical Instrumentation for Instantaneous Real-Time Measurement of Chemical Elements in Raw Petroleum and Refinery Products

Period of Performance: 07/31/2017 - 07/30/2019


Phase 2 SBIR

Recipient Firm

Applied Spectra, Inc.
46665 Fremont Blvd Array
Fremont, CA 94538
Firm POC, Principal Investigator


Chemical composition of feedstock petroleum affects the refining methods to produce fuels and other products. Intermediate and final refinery products as well as petrochemical products must be analyzed to meet regulations, required specifications and to provide certificates. Traditional chemical analysis is based on a multitude (> 100) of the ASTM standard methods but they are slow, laborious, expensive, and each of them is suitable only for one or very few elements. The multi- element analysis can be performed by ICP-OES, but it requires acidic digestion of samples, an evacuated spectrometer with a pump, a flow of high-purity argon, quartz/glassware and other consumables. Sample preparation takes long time. Acids are costly and dangerous, thus require personnel safety training, drills and emergency proceedings. Hazardous chemical waste must be disposed after the ICP measurement. With current low oil prices, advanced data collection and real-time analysis is pursued because it will reduce cost, improve efficiency, and enhance safety without huge capital outlays for refineries. We will develop a multi-purpose LIBS (laser-induced breakdown spectroscopy) instrument for rapid chemical analysis without dissolving the samples, directly in air or a gas flow. We use instantaneous laser ablation of the petroleum mist aspirated into a small chamber. LIBS yields real- time information on chemical composition. The speed of the LIBS analysis cannot be matched by any other available technology. This will enable precisely controlled processes by monitoring chemical data at various stages of refining. This is a "green" technology that utilizes low power (