Level Measurement Solutions for Solvent Extraction

As a consequence of the distillation process, raw crude oil is separated into various products, also known as fractions. These fractions are then subjected to solvent extraction, which further removes impurities from finished products by dissolving them in solvent.

The heavy fraction remaining following the distillation of crudes is called petroleum resids. A variety of solvent extraction processes yield deasphalted oil (DAO) from these resids. These oils serve as downstream feedstocks for catalytic crackers and hydrocrackers. Depending upon the system configuration, level monitoring of the separator, preflash, stripper and hot oil phases may include surge and flash drums, separators and strippers.

Magnetrol® has produced an applications brochure for the petroleum refining industry detailing level measurement challenges and solutions for each step of the refining process. This blog post is part of an occasional series describing each application in detail. 

Level Measurement Challenges and Considerations

Level control is critical because interface level control of the separator feeds the flash drum, whose level feeds the stripper, and so on down through the rest of the extraction process. Without proper level measurement, the entire system could experience problems and errors. Application extremes include high temperatures, high pressures, and the presence of steam. Level instruments selected for this application must be able to withstand these challenging process conditions.

Level Measurement Solutions 

MAGNETROL has produced level solutions for solvent extraction that can be relied on throughout the entire process, in every extreme:

  • For point level:
    Series 3 float-actuated external cage level switch
  • For continuous level:
    Eclipse® Model 706 guided wave radar transmitter or E3 Modulevel® displacer-actuated transmitter
  • For visual indication:
    Atlas™ and Aurora® magnetic level indicators can be supplied with switches or transmitters

More Information

For more information on level measurement solutions for solvent extraction and other petroleum refining applications, download the petroleum refining brochure. And for more information on instrumentation for interface level measurement, download the interface brochure.

preflash drums

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Level Measurement Solutions for Column Reboilers

In order to refine crude oil into petroleum, it must first undergo the distillation process. Once the crude passes through the distillation column, it enters the column reboiler. A heat exchanger positioned near the bottom of the distillation column reheats and vaporizes liquid and reintroduces the vapor several trays higher. This improves separation by introducing more heat into the column. Column reboilers are essential for improved distillation and for ensuring that raw crude oil is refined and purified properly.

Magnetrol® has produced an applications brochure for the petroleum refining industry detailing level measurement challenges and solutions for each step of the refining process. This blog post is part of an occasional series exploring each application in detail.

Level Measurement Challenges and Considerations

For effective functioning of the reboiling process, precise level monitoring of the reboiler is required. In some steam reboilers, the level must be controlled so that only a percentage of tubes are covered. This allows a control scheme to regulate the heat transfer in the reboiler by controlling the percentage of the reboiler tubes covered by liquid. This is a critical control loop as heat transfer into the liquid is a strong function of the percentage of tubes covered. Without accurate, reliable level measurement, the heat transfer will not be well controlled and the tubes will not be covered correctly.

column reboiler

A column reboiler.

Level Measurement Solutions

MAGNETROL has produced level measurement solutions for all types of column reboilers:

  • For point level
    Series 3 float-actuated external cage level switch or Tuffy® II float-actuated switch
  • For continuous level
    E3 Modulevel® displacer-actuated transmitter or Eclipse® Model 706 guided wave radar transmitter
  • For visual indication
    Atlas™ or Aurora® magnetic level indicators can be supplied with switches or transmitters. 

More Information

For more information on level measurement solutions for column reboilers and other petroleum refining applications, download the petroleum refining brochure.

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Level Measurement Solutions for Reflux Accumulators

After crude oil has been desalted, dewatered and gone through the distillation process, the next step is reflux. A heat exchanger removes vapor from the upper parts of the fractionator, cools it to a liquid, and pumps it into an accumulator, also known as a reflux drum. Reflux pumps then draw liquid from the bottom of the accumulator and pump part of it back, where it is reintroduced at a lower point in the column.

This refluxing process improves separation in the column by assuring sufficient downward liquid flow meeting the rising vapor. Reflux accumulators are essential to increase the efficiency of distillation columns.

reflux accumulator

A reflux accumulator in the field.

Magnetrol® has produced an applications brochure for the petroleum refining industry detailing level measurement challenges and solutions for each step of the refining process. This blog is part of an occasional series exploring each application in detail.

Level Measurement Challenges and Considerations

 Accurate and reliable level monitoring and control is necessary for the reflux accumulator to serve as a distribution point for reflux and distillate, and prevent excessive reflux from returning back to the tower. Reflux accumulators must be monitored using instruments that can detect level precisely and consistently. In addition, better level measurement of reflux accumulators can make the distillation process more efficient.

Level Measurement Solutions

MAGNETROL has produced accurate, reliable level measurement solutions for reflux accumulators:

  • For point level
    Series 3 float-actuated external cage level switch
  • For continuous level
    Eclipse® Model 706 guided wave radar or E3 Modulevel® displacer-actuated transmitter
  • For visual indication
    Atlas™ or Aurora® magnetic level indicators can be supplied with switches or transmitters

More Information

 For more information on level measurement solutions for reflux accumulators and other petroleum refining applications, download the petroleum refining brochure.

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Magnetrol® Offers Level Measurement Solutions for Seal Pots

In industries such as petroleum, natural gas, and chemical processing, seal pots serve the fundamental purpose of storing fluid that is intended to provide protection to expensive rotating equipment, as in the case of lubricating fluids going to the seal chamber of centrifugal and positive displacement pumps. Measuring and ensuring proper liquid levels in seal pots protects this associated equipment. Level measurement plays a critical role in the sealing system in terms of safety, reliability, environmental impact and raising the bottom line.

Presenting Seal Pot Level Solutions 

MAGNETROL recently had the opportunity to share the value of level instrumentation in seal pots in compliance with API 682 with a local audience. The Will-DuPage chapter of the International Society for Automation (ISA), an association for automation engineering and technology professionals, hosted its annual tabletop show on March 8. MAGNETROL global product manager Tom Kemme gave a technical seminar at this show, entitled “Seal Pot Level Techniques.”

seal pots

The Magnetrol® tabletop display at the ISA show.

The seminar, as well as the tabletop display of MAGNETROL products, provided a chance to show expertise in a common process industry application and demonstrate excellence in level measurement. MAGNETROL has been an integral part of its local ISA section for decades and is committed to the ISA mission of improving the safety and management of automation control systems.

More Information

For more information on level measurement solutions for seal pots, download the seal pots brochure, visit the ECHOTEL site, or contact Tom Kemme directly at tkemme@magnetrol.com.

ultrasonic level measurement 2

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Level Measurement Solutions for Distillation Columns

Distillation is an energy-intensive separation method that prepares the crude oil to be processed into petroleum and other products. Following dewatering and desalination, crude oil enters distillation columns where fractional distillation separates hydrocarbons into different streams, cuts or fractions.

Magnetrol® has produced an applications brochure for the petroleum refining industry detailing measurement challenges and solutions for each step of the refining process. This blog post is part of an occasional series exploring each application in detail.

Level Measurement Challenges and Considerations 

Sight glasses and displacer systems mounted in external chambers have traditionally provided distillation level measurement. Today, guided wave radar retrofitted in these existing chambers is gaining popularity. This is due to the technology’s less demanding maintenance schedule and ease of retrofit.

Distillation columns in a petroleum refinery.

For optimum operation of the distillation column, level controls must contend with occurrences of foaming, bubbling and moderate-to-high temperatures. High product temperatures necessitate temperature-tolerant level sensors. Level instrumentation used in distillation columns must also be able to measure accurately in turbulent process conditions.

Level Measurement Solutions

MAGNETROL has produced level measurement solutions for distillation columns that are reliable, easy to maintain and unaffected by process conditions:

  • For point level
    Series 3 float-actuated external cage level switch
  • For continuous level
    Eclipse® Model 706 guided wave radar transmitter or E3 Modulevel® displacer-actuated transmitter
  • For visual indication
    Atlas™ or Aurora® magnetic level indicators can be supplied with switches or transmitters

More Information

For more information on level solutions for distillation columns and other petroleum refining applications, download the petroleum refining brochure.

preflash drums

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Level Measurement Solutions for Preflash Drums

In some petroleum refining plants, preflash drums are placed in between the desalters and the atmospheric columns as part of the crude distillation unit. Located in the preheat train of the distillation column, a preflash drum system separates the vapors generated by preheating before entering the heater or main column. This prevents higher heater firing or pressure drops and reduces vapor loading of the column to avoid flooding. Using preflash drums can also increase crude capacity when revamping and make the desalting process more efficient. preflash drums

Magnetrol® has produced an applications brochure for the petroleum refining industry detailing measurement challenges and solutions for each step of the refining process. This blog post is part of an occasional series exploring each application in detail.

Level Measurement Challenges and Considerations

 Preflash drums create moderate foam that can affect measurement accuracy of liquid levels and decrease distillate production in the atmospheric column. Instruments used in preflash drums must be able to accurately and consistently monitor level despite this foam.

In addition, level must be precisely monitored in the preflash drum. Too low of a preflash drum level will cause pump cavitation of the flashed crude. Too high of a level will cause liquid carryover to the distillation column. Only the most reliable level instrumentation should be installed in preflash drums.

Level Measurement Solutions 

MAGNETROL has produced level measurement solutions to protect preflash drums and monitor them accurately:

  • For point level:
    Series 3 float-actuated external cage level switch
  • For continuous level:
    Eclipse® Model 706 guided wave radar transmitter or E3 Modulevel® displacer-actuated transmitter
  • For visual indication:
    Atlas™ or Aurora® magnetic level indicators can be supplied with switches or transmitters

More Information

For more information on level solutions for preflash drums and other petroleum refining applications, download the petroleum refining brochure.

preflash drums

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Level Measurement Solutions for Crude Desalting

The first step to treating and refining crude oil is crude desalting. Inorganic chlorides, suspended solids, and trace metals found in untreated crude must be removed by chemical or electrostatic desalting. This reduces the risk of acid corrosion, plugging, fouling and catalyst poisoning in downstream units. The salts most frequently found in crude oil are calcium, sodium and magnesium chlorides.

Desalting units typically remove unwanted compounds either through a chemical additive that aids in the separation of the compounds from the oil, or through the use of an electrostatic field that creates force to separates the compounds. One-stage units or two-stage units can be utilized for crude desalting.

crude desalting

A crude desalting unit

Magnetrol® has produced an applications brochure for the petroleum refining industry detailing measurement challenges and solutions for each step of the refining process. This blog post is part of an occasional series exploring each application in detail.

Level Measurement Challenges and Considerations 

Measurement of the oil/water interface in the desalter is crucial in separating the cleansed crude from contaminants. But coating and build-up on probes may create interface measurement errors. In addition, instruments susceptible to electrostatic grid interference may require special filters in order to render accurate measurements. Interface-dedicated level transmitters fitted with quick-disconnect probes provide optimum performance while reducing cleaning and maintenance time.

Level Measurement Solutions

MAGNETROL has produced level measurement solutions for crude desalting that are equipped to deal with the challenges of interface:

  • Model A15 displacer-actuated level switch
  • Eclipse® Model 706 guided wave radar transmitter
  • E3 Modulevel® displacer-actuated transmitter

More Information

For more information on level solutions for crude desalting and other petroleum refining applications, download the petroleum refining brochure. And to learn more about interface level measurement, download the interface brochure.

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Level Measurement Solutions for Crude Oil Dewatering

All unrefined crude oil stored in tanks has a percentage of water entrained within it, and while stored in tanks, separation naturally occurs with water collecting at the bottom of the tank beneath the oil. The two fluids are very distinct except for a “black water” or “rag” interface layer which is an emulsion of mixed oil and water.

Before the oil can be refined, a dewatering process must take place. To dewater the tank, water is drawn off of the bottom of the tank and is then sent off to water treatment. Once this is complete, the crude oil is ready for refining.

Magnetrol® has produced an applications brochure for the petroleum refining industry detailing measurement challenges and solutions for each step of the refining process. This blog post is part of an occasional series exploring each application in detail. crude oil dewatering

Level Measurement Challenges and Considerations

All level instruments used for crude oil dewatering must be capable of accurate interface level measurement. Level controls designed for interface detection will sense the beginning of the oil/water interface during dewatering procedures and provide feedback to a control system which will terminate water draw-off when appropriate.

Level Measurement Solutions 

MAGNETROL has produced level measurement solutions for crude oil dewatering:

  • Model A-15 displacer-actuated switch
  • Eclipse® Model 706 guided wave radar transmitter
  • E3 Modulevel® displacer-actuated transmitter

More Information 

For more information on level measurement solutions for crude oil dewatering and other petroleum refining applications, download the petroleum refining brochure.

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Level Solutions for Crude Oil Storage

The naturally occurring liquid form of petroleum is known as crude oil. Each day, crude oil is brought to petroleum refineries. Upon arrival at the refinery terminal, crude oil is pumped into above-ground storage tanks with capacities of thousands to millions of gallons. Raw crude is stored in floating- or fixed-roof tanks field-built to API standards. Proper crude oil storage is the first step to refined petroleum.

crude oil storage

Crude oil storage tanks.

Magnetrol® has produced an applications brochure for the petroleum refining industry detailing measurement challenges and solutions for each step of the refining process. This blog post is part of an occasional series exploring each application in detail.

Level Measurement Challenges and Considerations

Crude oil storage tank level is maintained by valve actuation. By triggering an emergency cutoff, level controls prevent overflows and shut down pumps when level falls below low level. This helps to reduce or eliminate accidents. Safety-certified controls may be necessary due to crude’s low flash point.

Traditionally, mechanical float gauges and servo gauges have been used to measure crude oil storage tanks. However, tank level measurement by non-contact radar has gained share over mechanical float type and servo gauges due to its accuracy, low maintenance, and lack of moving parts.

Level Measurement Solutions 

MAGNETROL has produced level measurement solutions for crude oil storage tanks:

  • Model A15 displacer-actuated level switch
  • Pulsar® Model R86 pulse burst radar
  • Eclipse® Model 706 guided wave radar transmitter with 7Y1 flexible single cable probe

More Information

For more information on level solutions for crude oil storage and other petroleum refining applications, download the petroleum refining brochure.

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Level Measurement Solutions for Water Wash Tanks

Gas turbines are used throughout power generation plants to drive electrical generators. The compressor of a gas turbine ingests a large amount of air containing particulate matter, aerosols of hydrocarbons and other organic compounds and gases. Although the larger particulate matter is filtered out, the other compounds are deposited on the compressor blades. Compressor washing removes this deposited fouling and restores the aerodynamic profile and compressor efficiency.

Also used for cleaning generator or other machinery and equipment components, water wash is periodically discharged as wastewater. Once the compressors and other equipment have been cleaned, water wash is collected in a dedicated collection tank.

water wash tanks

A water wash tank

Magnetrol® has produced an applications brochure for the power and utilities industry detailing measurement challenges and solutions for each step of the power generation process. This blog post is part of an occasional series exploring each application in detail.

Level Measurement Challenges and Considerations

 Collected water wash is generally stored in a tank monitored for level with typical capacities of 50 to 100 gallons. Level instrumentation must be able to ensure that these tanks stay at capacity.

Level Measurement Solutions

MAGNETROL has produced level measurement solutions for water wash tanks:

  • For point level: Top mount float-actuated switches
  • For continuous level: Echotel® Model 355 non-contact ultrasonic radar transmitter or Eclipse® Model 706 guided wave radar transmitter
  • For visual indication: Top mount Atlas™ magnetic level indicator

More Information

For more information on level measurement solutions for water wash tanks or other power generation applications, download the power generation brochure.

power generation

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