Distillation of Crude Oil

Accurate measurements for the conversion of crude oil

Crude oil is made up of a mixture of hydrocarbons. The distillation unit of a crude oil refinery, also known as the crude unit, is where the crude oil distillation process takes place to separate crude oil into light, medium, and heavy petroleum products. The crude oil from the desalter is preheated; heater effluent then enters a crude distillation column where different products boil off and are recovered.

Density and level are important values used to characterize the different hydrocarbon fluids within the distillation tower. Accurate and precise measurements are necessary for optimizing the conversion of crude oil into other products such as gasoline, naphtha, and kerosene to name a few. Thermo Scientific density and level gauges are non-contacting, easy to use, and provide users with key measurement points to assist in avoidance of crude distillation process interruptions.

Delayed coking is another crude distillation process within the refinery that takes residual oil from distillation towers and further cracks the heavy, long-chain hydrocarbon molecules of the residual oil into coker gas and petroleum coke. The coking process, like the distillation process, requires constant monitoring of density and level within the vessel to optimize the process and prevent costly process upsets. Due to the generation of foam within the delayed coker, we have developed the KrilPRO Neutron Backscatter Foam Level/Interface Device to utilize neutron-backscatter technology for monitoring the levels of coke and foam.


Products used in the crude oil distillation process and delayed coking process

Thermo Scientific DensityPRO and LevelPRO gauges fulfill demanding applications in a number of industries, including refining, petrochemical, and mining. Our gauges are designed to measure density and level under challenging process conditions while offering a range of features in a small, integrated package that minimizes installation costs. Our detectors can be supplied with temperature compensation via RTD or accept a temperature signal from an existing temperature transmitter, to calculate density fluctuations.

Thermo Scientific KrilPRO Neutron Backscatter Foam Level/Interface Device uses an advanced detection technique that differentiates between vapors, foams, liquids, and solids to provide rapid indication of process changes within the delayed coking process. Neutron backscatter principles enable measurement through thick-walled vessels of any diameter to pinpoint process changes due to the varying levels of vapors, foams, liquids, and solids. Refineries use our Hybrid System that includes KrilPRO level/interface device in combination with the DensityPRO and LevelPRO to create a comprehensive delayed coker process monitoring system.


Hydrocarbon Measurement of Oil and Gas Applications

With the move toward digital oil fields, it is now apparent that in order to maintain a competitive edge we must look to instruments that provide not only reliable data but also connectivity and automation functionality.
Learn more ›